A diagrammatic guide to daily eating (figure 27a). The food guide pyramid has been adopted by the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage people to eat healthily. Six major groups of food are arranged in a pyramid shape to indicate the number of recommended daily servings of each group: the food group with the highest number of recommended daily servings (bread, cereal, and pasta group) form the base of the pyramid; the group with the lowest recommended number of servings (fats, oils, and sweets) form the apex of the pyramid. The guidelines are for the average person. All active people should have at least the lowest number of servings recommended for each food group. Very active people, especially serious athletes and those in physically demanding jobs, may need more than the larger number of recommended servings.
In the UK an alternative diagrammatic guide to the food guide pyramid has been introduced. It is called the â€˜plate modelâ€™ (figure 27b). This diagram takes the form of a plate divided into five sections representing the main food groups: bread, other cereals, and potatoes; milk and dairy foods; fatty and sugary foods; meat, fish, and alternatives; and fruit and vegetables. Market research found that the public preferred this approach to the pyramid.
The Pyramid includes five major food groups, each of which provides nutrients needed for good health. By making healthful choices within these food groups, like selecting low-fat and high-fiber foods, people can promote good health and reduce their risk of disease. The placement of foods within the Pyramid shows that foods of plant origin should supply most of the servings of food in the daily diet.
The Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta Group forms the base of the Pyramid, with the largest number of servings recommended (six to eleven servings recommended daily). The next layer up includes the Fruit Group (two to four servings) and the Vegetable Group (three to five servings). At the third level are the Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese Group (two to three servings) and the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group (two to three servings). At the tip of the Pyramid are Fats, Oils, and Sweets. These foods and food ingredients should be used â€œsparinglyâ€ to avoid excess calories and/or fat. It is not necessary to completely avoid foods such as salad dressing, butter, margarine, candy, soft drinks, and sweet desserts, but they should be consumed infrequently.
The Pyramid includes symbols that represent the fats and added sugars found in foods. These are most concentrated at the tip of the Pyramid, but are also found in foods from the five major food groups. This reveals that some foods within the five food groups are high in fat and/or sugar. People can limit their fat and sugar intake, as suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by selecting foods low in fat and added sugars most of the time.