Saturday, May 28, 2011

Goodbye, Stupid and Confusing Food Pyramid; Hello, Easy to Understand Food Plate!

I have had issues with the Food Pyramid for a long time. I don't think it's that easy to grasp. I also think it's not for everyone. Anyone with Celiac Disease or Insulin Resistance knows that we have issues with grains and/or starches/sugars.

But, finally, they're saying adios to Pyramid in favor of Plate. Plate is easy. Plate is a concept anyone can grasp, from a school age kid, maybe even PRESCHOOL, to the seniorest citizen on oxygen and multiple meds. We eat off plates. We GET plates.

Karen O knows, as do I, as do those who read REFUSE TO REGAIN, the author (Dr. Barbara Berkeley) recommends PLATE PATTERN: Your plate be 1/4 lean protein source and 3/4 fruits and vegetables. As an I.R./Metabolic Syndrome/PreDiabetic diagnosed person, that's actually the ideal way for me to eat. Most meals are pretty darn close to that, though I do use dairy.

The USDA Food Plate is not exactly like that, but kinda close:

...a simple, plate-shaped icon, which is sliced into portions for basic food groups - fruits and vegetables take up half the space. The plate symbol will be announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.
The fruit, vegetables, grains and protein sections are colored individually. There is a small circle next to the place for milk, yogurt or other similar products.
Teaching people not some fuzzy concept in a pyramid, but showing them, "This is what your plate should look like" is a GREAT idea. Whether people will or won't, well, you can bring a horse to water, yadda yadda. But with a portioned plate, no one with a functioning brain can say they don't GET it.

Advocates of fresher foods, clean eating, wholesome diet, local and organic natural eating, etc, will rejoice. But some manufacturers are gonna have a hard time fitting themselves on the plates. As Dr. Berkeley writes:

But this easy formula presents a problem for the people who process and package foods.  Where do cereals, all that soy stuff, all those crackers and breads and bagels fit in?   What about those nice fatty steaks that come from the CAFOs where they stuff cows full of grain?   What about premium ice cream, candy and cake? What about all those corn based products (corn is a grain, not a vegetable)? The answer is simple.  They don't fit in, so they need to be relegated to the Itty Bitty Consumption category.  But companies that make millions producing these foods are not interested in itty bitty sales. 

The Food Plate, with modifications for our dietary issues--no gluten, limited starches (potato, sweet potato, some rice, especially for hubby who has a hard time keeping weight on once we gave up most starches, fewer for me)-- suits us pretty much. We've moved to a more whole foods, clean foods, organic foods, natural meats, veggie and fruit profile. I've given up, for the most part, the canned and boxed goods I used to rely on for convenience. I shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store--dairy, eggs, poultry/meat, produce, nuts, nut butters (I get the organic refrigerated ones from Whole Foods that are in the produce section from local Glaser Organic Farms, yum). I order my coconut oil and true cinnamon online. I order our toilet paper (Green Forest, recycled) online.

I no longer use the prepackaged hot cakes, the protein bars, the cereals, the canned soups (with exceptions, as when I'm sick, still gotta have some, cause I ain't cooking soup with colds/flu), the mac/cheese or pasta boxes. I have lots to give to the food pantry, actually, as even hubby won't eat pasta now (I kept buying Dreamfields and Fiber Gourmet --higher fiber, resistant starch, so they said-- for him).

I only need to visit the inner aisles for EVOO, spices, seasonings, tomato sauce/paste, paper products, water/beverages. I spend very little time in the frozen section. Pretty much only need to get frozen fruits (for smoothies) and veggies (for convenience) and the occasional sugar-free frozen treat.

Plate Pattern or Food  Plate--easy to grasp, right?

And honestly, when I adhere to Plate Pattern, I lose or don't gain.

When I broadly deviate from my R.D. plan--which mirrors Dr. Berkeley's Plate Pattern, in that the emphasis is on lean proteins, lighter on fat, heavy on produce-- I stall and gain.

I have deviated--too much protein and fat, not enough measuring-- and am stalling. Transgression are paid for, be they legal or food. I gotta get back to PATTERN and PLATING.

Do you like the Food Plate or Plate Pattern?
What's your plate look like these days?


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

I've never heard of PLATE actually. I can see where the visual is good for people. You're right about the boxed foods being an issue. I've been reducing a lot of that junk but haven't eliminated it, that's for sure. When I think that blue box mac and cheese with hot dog used to be my "plate" I shudder.

Kelliann said...

I am in school to become a dietitian, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of the food plate, rather than pyramid. I think they both have their place, but I'm with you - the concept of the plate is in EVERYONES grasp. Did I already say LOVE?
I also love the concept of "eating the rainbow". When you focus on having lots of natural colors on that plate (and as I say to me 4 year old - "uh, no, skittles don't count!" LOL), you are more apt to choose fresh fruits and veggies, as opposed to an "all beige" diet (which, of course, my toddler loves) More colors also equals more nutrients...

Skinny Mini said...

I am truly intrigued by the food plate idea. I am going to research it and see what changes I can make.

Becky Baker Horn said...

I only recently heard of the food plate plan, as well as the rainbow plan. Dr. Rob Huizenga from "The Biggest Loser" in his book "Where Did All the Fat Go?" also reminds us that plates used to be 9" diameter, but now they are 13" diameter! So we still have to be mindful of measuring our food.

Susan said...

I think it is cool how google has a reference like that. Thanks for the link. I scrolled up and the terms defined. I like
Food Assault-unwanted intrusions of food into maintainers life.
POW- Previously OverWeight
there is also Revenge Clothesand Scream Weight
it was on page xix which is 19 for those who are roman numeral challenged. LOL

Apparently we are witness to history when the symbol changes. Yet check this 2001 study by Penn State called "The New American Plate" pdf

And I would go with the Doctor over the government...just because I see the envelope passing from the industries to try to get a piece of that PLATE real estate. General Mills is probably cursing "PLATE PLATE?? WHERE IS THE F'ING BOWL?" lol

I love your blog.

Marilee said...

Not that I want to confuse anyone, but I just found a very interesting Healing Foods Pyramid put out by the University of Michigan. It's discussed in this great book I'm reading, "The Probiotics Revolution." Anyway, those pyramids are all kind of hard to handle, but you might take a look anyway. This one is unique.

Thursday's Child said...

The UK has the 'eatwell plate' as our version of the US food pyramid (example: which is taught in schools instead of a pyramid.

Water Lily said...

I don't like plates or pyramids. I like a simple list because I can read and don't have to look at pictures. A list that says: Eat these foods. Don't eat these foods.

Anyway, the USDA and conventional medical dietary guidelines are way too high in carbs and too low in GOOD fats, so who benefits from them?

Gordon said...

I just wanted to add that the pyramid guide is influenced by food companies. With all the people out there supporting the food pyramid you think they would rethink it. People are getting fatter and sicker. It's not working.