New Pyramid Unveiled

On April 19, 2005, the USDA Food Guide Pyramidwas given a facelift for the first time in 13 years.

MyPyramid, which replaces the Food GuidePyramid introduced in 1992, is part of an overallfood guidance system “that emphasizes the needfor a more individualized approach to improvingdiet and lifestyle.”

“MyPyramid is about the ability of Americansto personalize their approach when choosinga healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition andexercise,” says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

According to USDA, the MyPyramid symbol“represents the recommended proportion offoods from each food group and focuses on theimportance of making smart food choices in everyfood group, every day.”

In addition, physical activity is a new element inthe MyPyramid symbol.

Consumers are encouraged to go to the Web site for more in-depthinformation on how they can make these choicesfit their own needs.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture,April 19, 2005

We asked Gerri French, MS/RD, CDE,to offer her perspectives on the newUSDA Food Pyramid.

I love the new MyPyramid design, whichshows a person climbing up the stepsof the pyramid, a reminder that physicalactivity is as an integral part of a healthylifestyle.

However, to be able to appreciate the newcomprehensive dietary recommendations,and specifically the personalizationcomponent, users need to go to theUSDA’s Web site at

It is clear that the new USDA guidelineswere not written for people with diabetes,pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome orwomen with polycystic ovarian syndrome,since the carbohydrate content fromstarchy vegetables, fruits, grains and milkremains at 50 percent of calories.

This year, there are 12 different food intakecaloric patterns based on different ageand activity levels that are identified whenusers enter the appropriate data. Becausethe method used to calculate calorierecommendations simply uses age, sexand activity level and does not includeheight, weight and body composition, itsaccuracy is questionable.

If, however, you are someone whofollows a diet regimen that is 50 percentcarbohydrate, 20 percent protein and30 percent fat, MyPyramid will be moreuseful to you.

For my daily 1,800-calorie recommendations,the MyPyramid calculator toldme I need three cups of milk or calciumequivalent from the dairy group, whichalso includes yogurt and cheese. The siteoffers no advice as to how I would receivethe equivalent amount of protein if I didnot eat dairy foods.

MyPyramid also advised me to eat onlyfive ounces daily of foods from the meatand beans group, since the calculatorassumed that I would receive anadditional 24 grams of protein from thedairy group.

The vegetable group, which is quiteconfusing, makes food recommendationsfor the entire week, whereas the otherrecommendations are for each day.Interestingly, starchy vegetables likebeans, corn and potatoes remain in thevegetable group, as do dried beans,peas and legumes. The calorie andcarbohydrate differences betweennonstarchy vegetables and beans arequite different.

The amount of grains recommended byMyPyramid is the same as in the previouspyramid, which is more than enough formost people.

Many people will be disappointed withhow little fat is recommended, althoughliquid oils and plant fats such as avocadoand nuts are encouraged more often thananimal fats.

For more detailed nutritional information,readers of Diabetes Health should visitthe “For Professionals” section of Better yet, consult withyour certified diabetes educator anddietitian to personalize your nutritionprogram.

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