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Travel & Food

Is The Food Pyramid Outdated? Check Out These Alternative Eating Guides

Hearing the term "food pyramid" might transport you back to health class, where you first encountered this dietary guide. It cleverly organizes food items into categories, advising you on the ideal amounts of each. For years, it was your roadmap to healthy eating: a foundation of grains, a generous layer of fruits and vegetables, a dose of proteins, and a sprinkle of sweets and fats at the peak. But that’s all changed, and here’s why.

What’s Wrong with the Food Pyramid?

Original food pyramid from USDA.

Remember this? The food pyramid was first introduced in the ‘90s.

Image Credit: Journal of Nutrition

While the food pyramid had its heart in the right place, it wasn’t perfect. For example, it put grains (hello, carbs!) at the largest base, without differentiating between healthy (whole grains) and unhealthy options (refined grains). It also didn’t highlight the essential food groups that you need to eat more of, making it hard to understand what a balanced meal looks like.

 

In recent years, many alternative diets have emerged, offering more tailored approaches to healthy eating. They include every important food group and focus on balance. Discover these food guides to find one that suits your lifestyle.

1. MyPlate

The modern successor to the food pyramid, MyPlate, was launched in 2011 by the USDA, offering a simplified visual representation of a balanced meal. It divides a plate into four main sections—fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein—plus a side of dairy.

MyPlate visual guide.

The MyPlate guide shows ideal portion sizes for your meals.

Image Credit: USDA / MyPlate.Gov

The guide is straightforward: Aim to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, a quarter with grains, and another quarter with lean protein. Don’t forget to include a serving of dairy, such as a cup of low-fat yogurt or a slice of cheese. Flexible and customizable, MyPlate encourages trying out different combinations to create delicious and nutritious meals that meet your individual needs.

2. Healthy Eating Plate

Using MyPlate as a jump-off point, the experts at Harvard University created their dietary guide called the Healthy Eating Plate. They claim this approach is based “exclusively on available science.”

Harvard Healthy Eating Plate.

Harvard offers a more detailed version with the Healthy Eating Plate.

Image Credit: Harvard University

3. Mediterranean Diet

Inspired by countries near the Mediterranean Sea, this diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed food items. Think fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, while limiting red meat and processed foods. It’s not only about what you eat either, but how you eat—with meals enjoyed leisurely with family and friends.

 

Some practical tips: Start by swapping butter for olive oil. Explore using herbs and spices instead of relying on salt or processed sauces. Enjoy fish a few times a week. Research shows that this diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions, making it a great healthy choice.

4. Flexitarian Diet

Think of the Flexitarian Diet as your go-to for keeping things flexible yet mostly vegetarian. It's a blend of "flexible" and "vegetarian," letting you focus on plant-based foods while still enjoying meat and fish sometimes.

 

You won't have to stick to strict portion sizes, but the idea is to fill up on more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. When you feel like it, you can have smaller amounts of protein. It's about finding that sweet spot where you eat mostly vegetables but can still have your favorite meat or fish dishes occasionally.

 

This diet is easier than sticking strictly to vegetarianism, and a 2017 study shows that it comes with perks like better weight control, a healthier heart, and a lower chance of chronic diseases.

In case you’re wondering: Is Intermittent Fasting a diet?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is more about when you eat than what you eat. You can mix it with any diet since IF alternates between fasting and eating periods. For example, the 16/8 method means you fast for 16 hours and eat only during an 8-hour window each day.

 

IF aims to help you lose weight, boost your metabolism, and enhance cell repair, thanks to changes in your hormone levels. But, if you're trying IF, remember to eat balanced meals during your eating times to keep your health on track.

Eating Healthy Made Easy

Happy couple eating a healthy meal.

Get easy access to nutrition tips online.

Like the food pyramid, your approach to nutrition needs constant updating and tweaking to keep up with your evolving needs. Keep up with food trends—from new recipes to cooking videos—with a GFiber Unli Plan or GFiber Prepaid WiFi for a reliable internet connection. No time to cook? Use Grabfood in the Grab app and Booky to have nourishing meals delivered to your doorstep. Embrace digital convenience to make maintaining a healthy lifestyle both easy and accessible wherever you are.

Vibe check! How does this make you feel?

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