It’s very likely that you have visited the new food pyramid website, www.mypyramid.gov. How do I know? Because, the site was clogged for several days after it’s unveiling, due to unprecedented network traffic.
The old food pyramid, which was first introduced in 1992 and was well recognized by over 80 percent of the population, needed a face-lift. Why? It was one size fits all; it did not emphasize fruits and vegetables and no one except a dietician could tell you what constituted one serving size.
The new pyramid has overcome these problems in unique ways. First, it comes in 12 flavors when accessed on the internet. You put in your age, gender and how much you exercise. Then, it displays a customized rainbow-colored pyramid partnered with a table highlighting grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and meat & beans. The table is displayed with amounts we can understand, cups and ounces, as well as tips to reach our goal.
For example, if you are a vegetarian, as I am, it gives a number of excellent tips and options on what nutrients to focus on (protein, iron and calcium) and where to find vegetarian foods (Asian and Indian restaurants) and what foods to eat at restaurants (vegetable lo mein, bean tacos and burritos, or meat substitutes).
The width of the rainbow-bands on the pyramid approximates the amounts of food groups to be consumed; so fruits and vegetables take up most of the space, followed by grains with the narrowed band for fats, oils and sugars.
The most striking change on the pyramid is a stick figure climbing stairs up the pyramid to symbolize the need for daily exercise. This was a necessary change with two-thirds of the American population being overweight and sedentary.
But, the new pyramid may not benefit all. Those of us who do not use computers routinely, such as non-internet savvy grandmothers or low-income wage earners, are less likely to get the necessary information, especially since there is little or no budget to promote the pyramid.
Only time or internet hits will tell if the 2005 pyramid will enjoy the level of recognition as the old pyramid. But short of preparing a meal for us or lifting us out of our chair to exercise, the new pyramid provides live-references for us to any information we may need for improving our diet and exercising.