Afroz Subedar, MS, RD
Children's Hospital dietitian, Afroz Subedar, MS, RD, takes readers on a tour of the new Web-based food guidance system released in May by the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA), and Health and Human Services.
Take a step inside www.mypyramid.gov and you'll not only find the much-discussed "My Pyramid Plan," but links filled with valuable information useful for counseling your family and friends.
The new "pyramid" released last month by the United States Departments of Agriculture (USDA), and Health and Human Services, is a highly anticipated, first-ever, Web-based, food guidance system designed to translate the 2005 Dietary Guidelines into a group of consumer-friendly education tools.
Although a Web-based system seems appropriate in today's world, critics are concerned it may make the information inaccessible tomany in high-risk populations needing the information most. The USDA is responding, developing a Spanish language site and print versions of the material.
Consider the old food guide pyramid found on cereal boxes and bread packaging; it has horizontal slices for various foods groups, each with pictures and recommendations for a wide range of servings.
Compare that with the newer version, depicting six colorful vertical slices, each with its own color, representing recommended daily proportions of the different food groups. The stairs on the side of the pyramid promote physical activity.
Although it's not obvious what each color represents, after choosing the "Inside the Pyramid" option, click orange for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruit, yellow for oils, blue for dairy, and purple for meat and beans, to learn more about each group.
How touse the food guide:
Try it yourself. On the home page you'll find a place toenter your age, gender and activity level. The program will assign you a calorie level ranging from 1,000 to 3,200 calories (which does not account for your weight and height).
Your printable calorie guide, with pre-determined servings from each food group, will also include activity recommendations. This structured guide may help adults develop a lifestyle focused on healthy eating and active living, but imposing a strict calorie level on young children and adolescents can be harmful and is not recommended.
Children need to learn how tobe active and make independent healthy food choices.
Here are some quick tips for children and adolescents:
Clicking on "Tips and Resources" offers hints for choosing from each of the food groups - these can make great resource sheets.
Those who just love the site can go to MyPyramid Tracker to track and assess their daily food intake and physical activity.