What Is Healthy Eating? Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down?
The healthiest way to eat is not necessarily what you think it is. You may have heard of the “food pyramid” or seen pictures of one before. The food pyramid was created over 100 years ago by a man named John Yudkin, but its original purpose was not nutritional advice. It was meant to educate Americans about how they could better manage their money.
Yudkin’s goal was to teach them how much food they needed per day so that they wouldn’t go hungry during times of economic hardship. Unfortunately, many people still use the food pyramid today because it makes them feel good when they see themselves on top of the pyramid with all those delicious foods at the bottom!
In fact, if you look closely at the pyramid, you’ll notice that there are no vegetables or fruits at all. There are only grains and starches like white rice and pasta. These foods don’t provide us with essential nutrients; instead they’re just convenient carbs that make our bodies burn up energy rather than store it as fat. They’re also high in calories which means they contribute to weight gain (and obesity) even though some of these foods might seem healthy on the surface.
The most basic problem with the food pyramid and similar guidelines is that it’s an outdated model from a time when the American diet was much different and less refined than it is today. It didn’t even factor in processed food which barely existed during Yudkin’s time!
When the “food pyramid” was created, people were still eating whole foods and not much else. There weren’t any fast food restaurants or convenience stores nearby to buy pre-packaged meals. We didn’t have the huge abundance of food choices that we have today. This alone makes the guidelines obsolete and they haven’t been adjusted over time to reflect changes in our society.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the food pyramid was created by the U.S. government and it was (and still is) their job to make sure people are fed and cared for, but not their job to teach them how to eat right. Their approach is to tell you what food group you’re lacking in and then encourage you to buy their processed foods to supplement the rest of your diet. It’s more profitable for them if people continue to buy their enriched white breads or corn meals rather than just buying the whole wheat bread or yellow corn themselves.
So, How Should I Eat?
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to nutrition, but there are some general guidelines that most nutritionists agree with. If you want to know how to eat right, it’s important that you understand the basics of a healthy diet.
The first step is to start eating a wide variety of different foods. Go ahead and get some of those delicious vegetables and fruits like apples, bananas, carrots, and oranges. You don’t have to be rich to do it either. Visit a local farmers market or pick your own produce from a farm if you have the means to do so. If you’re on a budget, go to a discount grocery store and fill your cart with fresh fruits and veggies.
Inexpensive lean meats like chicken and turkey are also good for you if you can’t afford fish or shellfish.
Fats are also an important part of a healthy diet, though the type of fat is very important. Avoid trans-fats like margarine and partially-hydrogenated oils. These man-made fats have no place in your diet. Limit your intake of saturated fat from fatty meats and high-fat dairy like cheese and creams. Focus on eating foods with monounsaturated fats like olives, avocados, and nuts.
Polyunsaturated fats like fish and Omega-3 enriched eggs are great for you as well.
Grains can be consumed in moderation depending on your weight and health goals. Low-fiber carbs are much easier to digest than high fiber ones (like whole wheat bread vs. white bread) so they’re a better option for people with digestive problems or those who simply don’t have much of an appetite. Refined carbs like white bread and white rice are quickly broken down into simple sugars. This isn’t all bad if you’re going to be using the fuel immediately, but it can lead to health problems if you eat these all the time since your body will start to crave the energy and get used to them.
Once you’ve gotten the basics down, then you can start to mold your diet to meet your own personal needs and lifestyle. A body-builder and a marathon runner have different nutritional needs even if their end goals are the same. If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, then this all changes again since you won’t be getting any dietary recommendations from meat or animal byproducts.
Setting up a goal for yourself is also a good way to help yourself stick to a diet. For example, if you want to lose weight then pick a date and make a bet with a friend that you’ll step on a scale and prove to them that you’ve lost weight by then. If you want to get massive muscles, then find a buddy who’s also interested in building muscle and make a plan to meet at the gym together several times a week.
Finally, don’t forget to drink your water! It’s easy to get so caught up in eating your 5 servings of fruits and vegetables that you forget to stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water before you eat to help yourself feel full faster and prevent overeating.
The information above provides you with the basics for a healthy diet, but for more specific information on how many calories, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and so on that you should be getting, seek out a nutritionist or other health professional. They’ll be able to tell you a more exact breakdown of what your daily meals should consist of.
People can be cruel, but high school is a battleground of emotion for anyone; the jocks, the rebels, the brains, the band geeks and so on.
While you may feel like an outcast now, just think: in ten years when you’re all grown up and looking back on high school, who’s going to care?
No one. The real world is a lot bigger than your local high school and there are more important things to worry about. You’re young and you still have your whole life ahead of you, so don’t let a couple of mean words keep you from living the life you want to live.
Best of luck and do keep in touch!
To: Liz Taylor
Subject: (No Subject)
From: Liz Taylor
Subject: (No Subject)
I’m sorry you feel that way about my letter, I was just trying to help. I realize now that the things I was saying might have sounded harsh or uncaring. That wasn’t my intention at all, I hope you know that.
We’ve just been friends for so long that it felt weird to write something like that to you. I guess you were right when you said we didn’t need to be friends because we’ve been doing it for so long that we fell into a sort of “friends zone”.
I’ll leave you alone now and we can just forget this whole thing ever happened. Goodbye, Mikey.
To: Liz Taylor
Subject: (No Subject)
Why are you so nice?
Just leave me alone.
Sources & references used in this article:
What Is Healthy Eating? Turning the Food Pyramid Upside Down by K Cann – breakingmuscle.com
What Our Dietary Guidelines Should Be by K Cann – breakingmuscle.com
Eat, drink, and be healthy: the Harvard Medical School guide to healthy eating by W Willett, PJ Skerrett – 2017 – books.google.com