The First Lady and the USDA have unveiled the replacement for the good ol’ Food Pyramid, claiming that the pyramid was too complicated to help the average person. Remember when the pyramid was arranged horizontally, and then became a vertical model with a figure running up the side? In my view, that was an improvement if for no other reason than the inclusion of an exercise symbol. The new Plate is another story altogether.
I get that it’s simpler, and I’m usually a big fan of simplicity. But I think the matter of getting and staying healthy is too complex and too important to be over-simplified.
But my biggest issue with this whole deal is that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, First Lady Michelle Obama and others have claimed that even they couldn’t understand the old pyramid. Really? These are supposed to be some of the country’s best and brightest — and they had trouble comprehending what it means to eat 2-3 servings of dairy? It’s just not that hard.
Then, there’s Joe Q. Public, who would love to blame something or someone else for being overweight. When Mrs. Obama says, “we can’t be expected to measure…or look up…[food portion sizes]“ it’s the perfect scapegoat. In my opinion, if you’re serious about your health, it’s your responsibility to know what a portion size is. And there are so many EASY guides to do it — you don’t have to carry a scale with you! Three ounces (one serving) of chicken is the size of a deck of cards, for instance. One serving of pasta or rice? Half a tennis ball. Come on — boiling water is more complicated than knowing general portion sizes.
The oversimplification also leaves out a few important points: the grains on your plate should be whole grains. The protein on your plate should be lean protein. And the vegetables, fruits and dairy (if you’re really convinced by the dairy lobby that you need some every day) should be organic whenever possible. And, by the way, you need to get your rump off the couch and exercise.
I’d be fine with using MyPlate as an adjunct to the Pyramid, but as a replacement altogether? It falls far short of truly informing or helping the people who need it the most.