I did a blog post earlier this year about the revised food pyramid – what I agreed with and what I thought could be improved. It seems the USDA has changed the icon from that pyramid to a plate.
I happen to prefer the plate because it makes it easier to actually picture how you should be creating your meals. Of course, I don’t fully agree with the new guidelines, but I actually think they are a great improvement! The recommendations, as you can see at the link above, are good – eat less and watch portion sizes; choose whole grains; reduce sodium, particularly from packaged foods and replace sugary drinks with water – all good!
However, as you can see the plate shows equal portions of fruits, vegetables, protein and grains. While I’m happy to see protein included in every meal (as long as it’s a high quality, clean protein), I don’t agree that you need fruit at every meal. As a matter of fact 2 pieces or servings a day is enough. I’m happy to see vegetables included, and I believe they should take up a bigger area of the plate and form the foundation of meals. Although I am happy to see that they recommend replacing at least half of your grains with whole grains – having grains – even whole grains with each meal is not a necessity. In fact I recommend you eat your high quality whole grains early in the day – breakfast and/or lunch depending on whether you are trying to lose or maintain weight.
And I honestly don’t feel dairy is “essential” either. Rather I feel it’s more of an “option” you can include, occasionally, if you have no issues digesting it. If you have to have milk, I really recommend spending the extra money on organic milk with no added hormones and antibiotics since raw milk is all but impossible to find. As far as choosing low fat dairy over full fat – there appear to be benefits to the latter, if you choose to include dairy at all.
The one thing I feel is missing that should be essential is healthy fat. Fat is essential to health and the fear of saturated fat is sorely outdated. Saturated fats like coconut oil are extremely healthy and in my opinion, going fat-free is one reason we have this obesity epidemic!