What Is Food Pyramid?
It is a simple visual guide designed to make eating healthy easier. Food that contains the same type of nutrients are grouped together on each of the shelves of the Food Pyramid. This gives you a choice of different food from which to choose a healthy diet.
Healthy eating is about getting the correct amount of nutrients – fat, carbohydrates, protein vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health. Using a food pyramid as a tool to follow different dietary guidelines is a good start in the right direction. It will help you get the right balance of nutritious food within your calorie range. A healthy diet includes more food from the base of the pyramid than from the higher levels of the pyramid.
The 3 Layers Of Food Pyramid
1) The Foundation Layer
2) The Middle Layer
3) The Top Layer
1) The Foundation Layer
This layer consists of all the alkaline food we’ve discussed up to this point. It includes green vegetables, fruits, and certain grains.
This layer makes up around 70% of what we eat. Eating a plant-based diet is the healthiest. It is important to ensure that this layer occupies the most part of our diet. So why are plant food so important? This is because it contains tons of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Not just that, these food are the primary source of fiber and carbohydrates in our diet.
According to a significant convergence of evidence, the plant-based diets play a very important role in the prevention of some top killer diseases in the Western world. It is also found that the diet could be more effective than medication and surgery.
Some of the examples include lowering blood pressure, decreasing the chances of having a stroke or heart attack and guard against cataract.
Carbohydrates are needed by the body mainly for energy. Some of the best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, barley, and oats.
2) The Middle Layer
This layer consists of yogurt, cheese, milk, fish, eggs, poultry, seeds, and nuts. Food in the yogurt, cheese, and milk provide us with essential nutrients for strong bones and growth such as protein, calcium, minerals, and vitamins.
There are other food groups included in this layer – The non-dairy food. For instance, cereal, soy, and rice. However, these food are calorie-dense. Thus, it is better to go for the low-fat products in the grocery stores to save a few inches around your waist!
Another essential food group in this layer is the protein-rich group. You cannot ignore this group of food as it is absolutely necessary to have adequate protein in your diet to promote healthy growth.
Examples of protein-rich food are meat, fish, eggs, poultry and seeds. Moreover, you can also get an additional source of other nutrients such as zinc, iodine, irons and vitamins (especially some B group vitamins). The animal food in this group also contains vitamin B12 and some contain omega-3 fatty acids.
3) The Top Layer
This layer includes healthy fats that we need in little amount every day to maintain a healthy heart and brain. The top level of the food pyramid consists of your non-essential food such as fats, oil and sweet. This is the only level of the pyramid that should be restricted. These food provide only calories with little to no nutrition. There are no serving guidelines for this level and you should generally try to avoid food that is high in fat or sugar.
It is important to cut down on the unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fat and only choose food that contains healthy fats. Some examples of the healthy source of fats include nut, seed oils, extra virgin olive oil, and avocados.
The Healthy Eating Guidelines
The shape of the Food Pyramid immediately suggests the type and amount of food be eaten often regularly or occasionally. It emphasizes the importance of eating a balanced diet to live a healthy and long life. The following are the essential elements of the healthy diet.
Water is one of the essential elements to health. Water makes up more than two-thirds of human body weight. Our body loses water through sweating, breathing, and digestion.
Therefore, it is important to keep ourselves hydrated. Adults should drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day to help keep the body properly hydrated. Therefore, drink more water and avoid sugary options like energy drinks, hot chocolates, and instant powdered drinks.
Herbs And Spices
Throughout history, the use of herbs and spices has been incredibly important. If you’re looking to round out your healthy lifestyle, you’ll want to stock up on the following herbs and spices and use them generously in your cooking or use them on their own to enhance the absorption and benefits received.
Here we’ve gathered some of the healthiest spices and herbs enjoyed around the world:
• Dill Weed/Seed
• Curry Powder
Related: Benefits In Eating Healthy
Limit Salt And Sugar
We should all cut down our daily salt and sugar intake as the world today is actually intoxicated with too much sodium and glucose.
Quick examples will be the processed food – Obscenely high in sodium and sugar (You can find eerily high percentage of them in your carbonated drinks!)
Even worse, the most conventional way of cooking today is to put in a lot of salt and sugar for taste! That’s a surefire way to put you on the hospital bed.
Thus, the best way is to be aware of how much sodium and glucose you’re ingesting on a daily basis. If possible, track them.
You’ll be surprised that you’re overdosed with a high level of them in your diet without even noticing.
So, avoid canned food or any processed food as often as possible. Chances are, they’re incredibly high in food additives.
As mentioned, eating out can also be dangerous too! As most of the restaurants out there have little to no interest in your overall health and they’ll do whatever they can to bring up the taste. Hence, the overdose of salt and sugar.
The best way to deal with this is to choose to eat home as often as you can (But also keep in mind that you don’t use too much “taste enhancer” in your cooking).
If you wish to spice up your home cooked meals, why not use natural herbs and spices instead?
Bear in mind that even reducing these by a small amount can make us healthier. So, choose to eat healthy today!
You probably aren’t even aware of just how much sodium is in your diet. While it is essential for our body to have a small amount of sodium to function properly. However, too much sodium can be bad for health. Evidence shows that consuming too much sodium will increase the risk of heart failure, kidney disease, stroke and stomach cancer. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended to limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day. Therefore, aim for a lower sodium diet to avoid health risk. Instead, use herbs and spices to flavor our food.
Related: Alkaline Food VS Acidic Food
Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. It is also one of the main reasons for obesity and the increasing risk of heart diseases, Diabetes Mellitus and cancers. If you have a sweet tooth, you have a really high chance to visit your dentist too! As added sugar damages your tooth, causes cavities and other nasty dental problems. Hence, it is important to watch how much sugar we add to our food. It is something we should all work towards to lead a healthier diet and lifestyle.
Some examples of food that may contain added sugars include:
• Grain-based desserts such as cakes cookies, and pies
• Sugar-sweetened beverages
• Fruit drinks
• Milk products and dairy desserts and milk products including sweetened milk, ice cream, sweetened yogurt
• Sugar and candy
• Other grain-based food such as honey-nut waffles and cinnamon toast
Stages Of Change
Finally, let’s talk about the 5 important stages to induce change.
Each of these stages describes an individual’s attitude toward behavior change. Trying to change behavior before one is ready usually, results in failure to develop new healthy behaviors. Small steps are the best bet for long-term results.
The stage at which individuals have no intention to change behavior. They are not thinking about changing their behavior. Many individuals in this state are unaware or under aware of their problems. These individuals are not ready for a change.
Strategy: Assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs and provide information to build on existing knowledge.
The stage in which individuals are aware that a problem exists. In this stage, individuals are willing to consider about overcoming it but are still sitting on the fence. In other word, individuals at this stage have not yet made a commitment to change and to take any action. Individuals are contemplating whether it’s something that will be worth it. Making the leap from thinking about a change to taking action can be hard. Asking yourself about the pros (benefits) and cons (things that get in the way) of changing your habits may be helpful.
Strategy: Discuss motivation and barriers to change and possible solutions.
If you are in the preparation stage, you are about to take action. To get started, look at your list of pros and cons. How can you make a plan and move to action?
Strategy: Assist in developing an action plan for change, provide direction and encouragement.
This is probably the most crucial stage, as without taking massive action – NOTHING HAPPENS. One requires having tremendous dedication in the form of time and energy to break through this stage. This is where you break and shape your new belief, thoughts, and habits.
To stick with your habits, it is helpful to look at how you are doing, overcome your setbacks, and reward yourself for your hard work. Track your progress through a healthy eating journal. This can help you identify your strengths; spot areas where you can improve, and stay on course.
Strategy: Reinforce decisions for change; offer continued support and reinforcement for positive changes.
In this stage, healthy eating or physical activity has already become part of your routine. So what should you do at this stage?
All you have to do is to avoid slip-ups, keep things as interesting as possible and find ways to stick to your habit.
Strategy: Add variety and stay motivated. Mix up your routine with new activities, physical activity buddies, recipes, rewards, and food.
The food pyramid is just a guideline for our eating habit. If you want to achieve a healthy lifestyle, eating guideline is definitely not enough.
A healthy lifestyle comes with a balanced diet, exercises, and a healthy mind. Remember, healthy does not only apply to our body but our mind as well.