How can the food guide pyramid be used to promote a healthy diet?

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Answered by: Emily, An Expert in the Choose the Right Foods Category
Many of us strive to maintain a healthy diet, but have difficulty sticking to our plans throughout the day. It can be tough to keep track of what you have already eaten and what you still need to consume in order to keep your diet balanced. Remember the food guide pyramid that we were taught about as children? Well, the pyramid is not just for kids! This valuable tool designed by the United States Department of Agriculture can be a useful for those who need a little help maintaining a balanced diet.



The appearance of the food guide pyramid has changed slightly in the last decade. It is no longer divided into squares. Instead, the pyramid is made of several colorful stripes of varying thickness that are meant to represent the different food groups. The thicker the stripe, the more a person should aim to eat from that particular group.

The new food guide pyramid has also gone through several other changes. The image features a person running up the side of the pyramid. This is meant to represent the importance of exercise in one’s daily routine. In addition, there is an emphasis on making healthy choices within each of the food groups. We’ll talk more about that later!



The largest stripe on the pyramid is the orange stripe, which stands for grains. The average person should aim to eat 6 ounces, or six small servings of grain per day. One single slice of bread or a half cup of cereal counts as one serving. The pyramid also recommends that at least 3 of these servings come from whole grain products. These products are high in fiber for digestive health and also high in B Vitamins, which promote a healthy metabolism.

Next is the green stripe, which is symbolic of vegetables. The average person should aim for at least 3 servings from this food group. The pyramid also emphasizes the importance of choosing dark green and dark orange vegetables often, as these contain the highest vitamin and mineral content. The fruit group is symbolized by the red stripe and goes hand in hand with the vegetable group. Try to aim for 2 to 3 servings of fruit each day and pick fresh fruit over canned or frozen fruit. Don’t be afraid to try new fruits, either! Variety is important.

The dairy group is symbolized by a blue stripe and three servings of low fat milk products are recommended per day for most adults. Milk contains the mineral calcium, which is needed for healthy bone growth. A deficiency of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones, so drink up! Full fat milk products contain large amounts of saturated fat, which is not healthy for the heart, so choose low fat or fat free products most often.

The last group to be represented on the pyramid is the meat and beans group. This group is represented by a small purple stripe because these foods should be enjoyed in moderation. Four to eight ounces of meat per day is adequate for almost everyone. Be sure to choose lean meats and cook them in healthy ways. Baking, broiling, and grilling are preferable to frying. Also, include fish and beans regularly to provide a good source of unsaturated fats in the diet.

Following the food guide pyramid can be a simple way to stick to a healthy eating plan. Keep in mind that eating a variety of foods is the key to a balanced diet and don’t be afraid to try something new every once in a while. There is no place for fats and sweets on the pyramid, and that is because they should only be eaten in very small amounts. Sure, you can enjoy some butter on your mashed potatoes every once in a while, but make the majority of your choices good, healthy members of the five food groups.

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