My Pyramid Food Guidance System –

My Pyramid Food Guidance System –

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

The food guide pyramid has been rebuilt – not from top to bottom in horizontal blocks, but in a rainbow of vertical stripes that represent the five food groups as well as fat and oils. The stripes on the pyramid include:

  • orange – grains
  • green – vegetables
  • red – fruits
  • blue – milk and dairy products
  • purple – meat, beans, fish and nuts
  • yellow – oils

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the pyramid because they wanted to help Americans recognize that one diet does not fit all and to take a personalized approach to dietary advice. In fact, "No one graphic symbol can or should serve as a stand-alone consumer nutrition education tool," according the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Many surveys, including ADA ”s 1997 nutrition trends survey, found most people recognize the Food Guide Pyramid. However, according to ADA , "The problem is that few people really understood the Pyramid and even fewer followed it." ADA proposed to USDA a "Food Guidance System" that includes a graphic symbol plus consumer messages and motivational and education tools that work together to guide people toward healthy food choices." In addition, the new MyPyramid graphic shows a person climbing steps to help Americans visualize the fact that physical activity is an important part of health. The website is


One size doesn”t fit all. The website contains the following pages: My Pyramid Plan, Inside the Pyramid, Tips and Resources, Dietary Guidelines, For Professionals, Related Links and My Pyramid Tracker.


Using " My Pyramid Plan," you enter your age, sex and physical activity. From this information, you can determine some basic information based on a standardized formula. After you plug in your information, you will get your "Individualized Pyramid Plan," which estimates how many calories you need. You also get an individualized breakdown of how many servings you should consume from each of the five food groups.

You can access the "Tips" section after each food group to learn how to incorporate these foods into your daily meal plan.

A meal tracking worksheet can be downloaded using Acrobat Reader. This worksheet (also called a food diary) will be helpful in determining how well you are doing in making good food choices and what your activity level is each day. In the past, when people were successful in losing weight and keeping it off for over five years, their main strategy was keeping a food and activity diary. Keeping track of what you eat and how active you are is time consuming, but it gives you some insight into what your pitfalls may be and what you need to work on to improve your health.


This section is designed to give the consumer information about each food group, such as w hat is included in the food group, how much you should eat, what counts as a cup, health benefits and nutrients and tips. In addition, the meaning of discretionary calories is discussed in detail as well specific information about physical activity.


Each week a new nutrition tip and fitness tip will be posted. In this section, you can also find information such as a seven -day sample menu for a 2,000-calorie food pattern; how to count mixed dishes such as pizza, macaroni and cheese or lasagna; tips for eating out; and information about vegetarian diets.

The sample menu includes portion sizes for three meals per day, the average food groups contained in the plan per week and a breakdown of nutrients averaged over the week”s worth of menus.

"Tips for Eating Out" includes strategies for ordering healthier foods, such as whole-wheat bread for sandwiches, how to order smaller portions and how to keep your meal moderate in calories.


In addition to all the practical information provided, the website includes information on the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, has an assortment of health-and-fitness-related links, a section for professionals and a " My Pyramid Tracker."

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is the publisher and nutrition editor of KHF. She is the former sports nutrition consultant to the University of Louisville Athletic Department and the United States Navy SEALs. Barbara is also the author of Fast Facts on Fast Food For Fast People (ISBN 0-9631538-6-2) and High Energy Eating Sports Nutrition Workbook for Active People (ISBN 0-9631538-5-4). In addition, Barbara has a private practice specializing in sports nutrition, has a weekly health & fitness radio show on WKJK 1080 AM . Barbara serves on the board of the Louisville Youth Training Center/Heuser Clinic, Mission Me and the Mayor”s Healthy Hometown Movement Advisory Committee. She is a member of Fit Louisville , PE4Life and Coalition for a Healthy and Active America . She is a runner, cyclist and hiker.

Copyright© 2004-2006 Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
No unauthorized duplication of any articles, graphics or other content without express written permission from KHF.
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