The USDA has recently come out with a new plan for people to follow as an alternative to the “My Pyramid” guide. While it includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy, it seems that the portions are not quite to my taste, water isn’t included in the diagram at all, added tips are more than vague, and where is the fat?!
When you look at the portions provided, it is a little troublesome. First of all, different people require different proportions of macronutrients based on their gender, age, activity, any injuries they might have, etc. So portions are not so easily standardized like this. However, as a general diagram it isn’t bad, but I would lower the quantities of fruits and grains and replace that empty space with vegetables. Fruits are very high in sugars that are usually quick to be digested, leaving you hungry. Grains, while filling, provide a lot of calories in a small amount. Vegetables on the other hand are lower in calories and sugars and provide fiber to help with the digestion process. Also, the dairy circle should include dairy alternatives as well. So many people are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply don’t like milk that it would be much more conducive to the general population to include this option. And there needs to be a circle for water as well. Hydration is so important and drinking water with every meal should be a must.
If you take a look at website, the “tips” that are included under the diagram are vague at best. The very first one, for example, says “enjoy your food, but eat less.” Well what is that supposed to mean? How much less? Less of which foods? This tip is then followed by “avoid oversized portions.” Portions are only half specified by the picture; how big is that plate supposed to be exactly? Later it goes on to say that you should make at least half your grains in your diet whole grains. Well why not say to make all of them whole grains? What is the point of eating grains if your aren’t getting any nutrition from them?
Fat is a very important part of your daily diet. It is a component of all the lubricants used in your body, especially in the joints. It is necessary for proper neural function. Some of the essential vitamins (A, D, E, and K) that your body needs are only absorbed through fat because they are fat soluble. These vitamins are responsible for bodily functions like vision, mood, blood integrity, immunity, blood pressure regulation, calcium absorption, growth and development, and antioxidants. Without these vitamins diseases can occur such as osteomalacia, blindness, cancer, impaired balance and coordination, and blood clotting malfunctions.
Fat also gives you a sense of satiety so that you do not over eat at meals, as well as keeping you fuller longer, alleviating the need to snack as much. This means that eating fats, despite popular belief, can actually allow some people to lose weight. Not all fat is good though. You want to focus on unsaturated, non-trans fatty acids. These include:
- Organic, cold pressed high quality oils
- Flaxseed and walnut oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Grapeseed oil, sunflower seed oil, sesame oil
- Organic lite coconut milk or oil
- Raw nuts, nut butters, and seeds
There are other programs that use this plate idea for portraying proper portion sizes for different food groups. One of these is called the TymPlates® Nutrition System. This is a system based on metabolic typing (protein, carbohydrate, or mixed) that allows you to get the right plate for your body.
This is a plate for the mixed metabolic type. The green portion of the plate is for vegetable carbohydrates, the yellow portion is for starchy carbohydrates, the red is for lean protein, and the Blue is for good fats. The white portion of the plate is where the typing label is as well as a reminder about taking any supplements that may be needed. Did you notice there was a section for fats?! You can visit www.tymplates.com to find out what your metabolic type is, as well as to learn more about the TymPlates® Nutrition System.
While the MyPlate tool put out by the USDA is much clearer and easier to use than the MyPyramid, it has its flaws. Systems like the TymPlates® Nutrition System are just as clear and include all of the necessary components to a balanced diet.