To start, the Food Pyramid represents the dietary recommendations that the USDA (United Sates Department of Agriculture) has set up for the American public. It was created originally to educate the consumers on what healthy eating represents.
The first food pyramid was terribly misleading and had not been updated with the latest nutritional research. It implied that all fats were bad, all complex carbohydrates were good, that all protein sources were the same, that dairy products are essential and did not include any recommendation for exercise.
All fats are bad? Not true.. What about monosaturated and polyunsaturated? What about the fats from fish, nuts, olive oil and grains?
All complex carbohydrates are good? Not true.. also 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates is way too much. This excess is exactly the opposite of what most people need to be healthy.
At the top of the pyramid was fats and sugar. Fat did not belong there.
Not all protein sources are created equivalent.
The USA is the one who sets the guidelines and the food pyramid. But it has conflicting priorities between protecting public health on one hand and protecting the interest of the food industry on the other? Many scandals and confessions from previous employees of the USDA highlight clearly these conflicts and how recommendations were changed to suit the food industry.
After lawsuits and intense lobbying from numerous scientific nutrition groups, the USDA updated their recommendations to a new system called “My Pyramid” in 2005.
My pyramid recommends eating more vegetables and whole grain products, cut down on certain fats and consume less sugar. It also suggests eating fewer calories, making sensible food choices and engaging in regular physical activity.
These are improvements but they are still not an accurate presentation of what foods are necessary for health.
In 2011, the USDA ditched the food pyramid and released a new design called MyPlate. The plate features four sections, one for fruit, vegetables, proteins and grains with a separate section next to the plate for dairy.
One of the most obvious problems with MyPlate is that it doesn’t even mention fats, although we now have a number of scientific research that confirms that healthy fats are important for good health while processed carbohydrates and sugars are the main drivers of disease. The reason why grains are still being promoted as healthy is that this is what farmers are paid to grow in the US. This is also controlled by the USDA.