When the USDA established guidelines for our daily food requirements and set up the “food pyramid” the entire nation embraced the information and took it for absolute divine truth.  I’m afraid, however, upon further examination, maybe we should have thought about this a little more.

The food pyramid did do more than anything prior to educate people about the need for consumption of some items from each of the food groups.  We need something from all of them in order to eat healthy and maintain our health.  That fact no one is disputing.  What we, as a population are beginning to question, however, are the daily caloric levels and recommended daily intake levels.

Thanks to a growing awareness of individual needs, and the pressure from all areas of medicine, traditional and alternative, the USDA has now researched and republished their food pyramid.

The original food pyramid had four food groups; the newly established pyramid has five.  The new pyramid addresses many different issues, from age, weight, and gender requirements to overall health issues.  Limiting the amount of intake and advice about the health concerns when we overeat is also included in the new food pyramid.  It is now color coded, so that it is easier for children and adults to find where they fit.

The new food pyramid is much improved in the area of individual concerns, and cautions to readers about individual considerations.  For clarities sake, let’s take a look at each food group and offer a bit of explanation.

The bread, cereals, rice and pasta food group has always been at the bottom and is meant to represent the food staples, the foundation of our diet.  The next two groups, vegetables and fruits, are pretty much the same as they have always been.  The next level of meats, poultry, fish dry beans, and eggs, as well as the milk, yogurt and cheese groups are where the reader will find some definite changes to the suggested consumption.

The addition of information as far as suggested caloric intake, depending upon your lifestyle, and calorie content for fast food items was a demanded and welcome addition to the pyramid food guide.  Other items of interest are suggested recipes, food substitutions, and tips on food selection.  I think the USDA did a much better job with the new guide, than with the old one in creating an atmosphere of “you create your own plan from this information”.

What we have seen as far as changes to the food pyramid and the addition of usual information is a direct result of some of the health conditions facing our population today.  The inclusion of varying recommended levels depending upon your gender, lifestyle and age group is a result of further medical research and information reported by fitness and health facilities across the country.  All this goes to reinforce the proof that your good health is an individual concern, and must be given individual attention. The pyramid food guide is just that, a guide.  It is not your personal plan of required eating levels.  It’s up to you to tailor the plan to meet your specific needs.