food pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid (Food Pyramid) is a model of eating that was introduced in 1992 to help Americans make better food choices. The Food Pyramid divides foods into groups, which it displays in the shape of a pyramid to represent the number of servings of each group people need to eat each day; more servings at the bottom; fewer servings at the top.

At the bottom of the pyramid is the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group, which makes up the largest proportion of the diet, at six to 11 servings a day. Just above that are the fruit (two to four servings daily) and vegetable (three to five servings) groups. The next level is the milk, yogurt, and cheese group (two to three servings), and the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group (two to three servings). At the pinnacle of the Food Pyramid are fats, oils, and sweets, which should be eaten sparingly.

The Food Pyramid includes the daily amounts of food people need at three different calorie levels; 1,600 calories (for sedentary women and older adults), 2,200 calories (for children, teenage girls, active women, and sedentary men), and 2,800 calories (for teenage boys, active men, and some active women).

In 2005, the Food Pyramid evolved into the MyPyramid system. This updated version maintained the pyramid design, but it was divided into vertical sections representing the five food groups, plus oils. MyPyramid turned out to be too complex, making it difficult for consumers to determine how much of each food they needed to eat.

In 2011, the USDA introduced MyPlate. This plate-shaped icon was designed to provide consumers with a simple visual reminder of how to create a balanced meal. The plate is divided into four sections: fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, with a circle off to the side that represents dairy. Since its introduction, MyPlate has largely replaced the Food Pyramid as a guide to healthy eating.

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