What’s on your plate?

Food: one of the most important parts of our existence after air and water. Our life revolves around food as much as that no special occasion or celebration is complete without special preparations. Like taking in polluted air or water is harmful to us so is food. By polluted food, I don’t intend to mean infected food I mean the wrong choice. The food on our plate besides being hygienic and nutritious should be quantified according to our needs.

There are lots of ways for deciphering the quantity of various foods that we need to include in our daily diet. The simplest way is the food guide pyramid. A food guide pyramid is a simple way of knowing the amounts of various foods a person needs to consume to ensure good health. It is a pictorial description in the form of a pyramid that houses various foods from base to apex. The ones at the base should be in the highest quantity in the diet and those at the apex in the least.

The concept of the food guide pyramid was introduced as early as 1974 but the most prevalent one was launched by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in 1992 and has been revised a couple of times since then.

According to this pyramid, you should build a healthy base i.e. at the base, there is Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group. It is recommended that there should be 6 to 11 servings from this group in a day’s diet. Next up the pyramid vegetables and fruits share space together. Include 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit daily. Milk and milk products that fulfill protein requirements in a vegetarian person should be 2 to 3. Meat, poultry, fish, pulses, eggs and nuts are not more than 2 to 3 servings every day. And at the tip of this pyramid are fats, oils and sweets which are recommended in small quantities.

In the latest depiction, the USDA has scrapped the pyramid and has used a plate as a pictorial. As you can see in the picture vegetables and fruits have got the largest area demarcated for them. Portion sizes for grains have decreased since the pyramid came into existence because of changes in our physical activity pattern. As a result, we need to increase our consumption of fibre and decrease the intake of carbs.

The pictorial is only a reference for the quantity of intake of various food groups; actual calorie intake would differ from person to person.

Image Courtesy: http://www.choosemyplate.gov

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