Yesterday, the First Lady unveiled this new image, along with a detailed new set of guidelines and suggestions for healthy eating and nutrition. I'm not that excited that this is what $2 million in research and marketing looks like, but it's a step in the right direction.
Remember the old food guide pyramid that was released in 1992?
There are so many, many things wrong with this picture. For instance, grain is represented as much, much more important than fruits and vegetables. Not great, but simple.
It was replaced by this ridiculously confusing and complicated pyramid in 2005:
What a mess! The way it's set up is somewhat misleading, placing too much emphasis on grains again. If you go to the trouble of clicking on each section and reading the recommended daily amounts of each of these groups, here's what you find:
We need more dairy products than vegetables? Really?
MyPlate is better. It gives a great emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which is fantastic. The "protein" section is a little confusing, since whole grains and vegetables also provide protein, but I get it - it leaves it up to you to choose meat, beans, tofu... whatever. This is definitely an improvement. I guess I am just generally annoyed by the weight we place on government recommendations like these. Take, for example, the low-fat craze. Following a recommendation to reduce fat intake, people started eating drastically more carbohydrates and sugar, which contributed to widespread obesity and obesity-related diseases like diabetes. Also, there has been some concern that the people who come up with the guidelines are not immune to the influence of big food lobbies.
It seems like every study that comes out shows some proof that eating this or avoiding that will make or break your health, nutrition, and weight. The question is: why do we keep trusting these studies? They have proven time and time again that nutrition is an inexact science.
Let's keep it simple. Let's follow rules and guidelines that have been passed down through tradition and arrived at by common sense rather than nutrition science. Let's eat a whole lot more plants. Instead of coming up with complex graphics to explain food, let's teach kids where their food comes from, what's in season, and how to cook! Our diet and exercise should bring us joy and pleasure, not anxiety and pain. Let's let go of all the science and have a little bit more fun.
What do you think about the new graphic and guidelines?