The Healthy Eating Pyramid as a guide for creating healthy, balanced meals. Generations of Americans are accustomed to the food pyramid design.
Consumers can think of the Healthy Eating Pyramid as a grocery list:
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy oils, and healthy proteins like nuts, beans, fish, and chicken should make it into the shopping cart every week, along with a little yogurt or milk if desired.
- The Healthy Eating Pyramid also addresses other aspects of a healthy lifestyle—exercise, weight control, vitamin D, and multivitamin supplements and moderation in alcohol for people who drink, so it’s a useful tool for health professionals and health educators.
- The Healthy Eating Pyramid summarizes the best dietary information available today. They aren’t set in stone, though, because nutrition researchers will undoubtedly turn up new information in the years ahead. The Healthy Eating Pyramid will change to reflect the important new evidence.
In 1992, the USDA created a powerful icon: the Food Guide Pyramid. This simple illustration conveyed what the USDA said were the elements of a healthy diet. The Pyramid was taught in schools, appeared in countless media articles and brochures, and was plastered on cereal boxes and food labels.
However, the information embodied in this pyramid was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it was seldom updated to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.
The USDA retired the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005 and replaced it with MyPyramid. Critics complained that the symbol was vague and confusing, so in June 2011 the USDA replaced MyPyramid with a new and simpler icon.
The USDA’s pyramids had many contributors. Some are obvious—USDA scientists, nutrition experts, staff members, and consultants. Others aren’t. Intense lobbying efforts from a variety of food industries also helped shape the pyramid.