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The Food Pyramid And Healthy Eating...

Aug 4, 2008
Most people have heard about "The Food Pyramid". It's a government created guideline for "healthy eating". It's sort of a general nutrition guide for the country.

In fact, the government (US Department of Agriculture) has recently upgraded it's food pyramid -- but the truth is that it's still an unsatisfactory guideline for people who want to lose weight.

The new pyramid is actually a number of different pyramids that can be tailored to an individual's unique circumstances. This would seem to be a move in the direction of "honest brokering" of action alternatives. But not all observers see this as a good thing.

It's positive that what they released can be more personalized. And I like the way physical activity is included graphically. But from a big point of view they missed the opportunity to make a stronger message. It's designed to not call any attention to any negative food group. I hate to say it, but what else would we expect from the USDA.

My last comment relates to how I see the pyramid. "A reflection of industry influence". "There's nothing about soda or snacks or about how many times you should eat".

It seems like the USDA dodged the difficult political advice once again and didn't clearly communicate what to eat less of. Given that obesity is the biggest health problem facing the country today. Clearly, there is no "honest brokering of science" on these issues.

I am no expert on food policy, but I would hypothesize that the differences in view on the efficacy of the food pyramid lie in differences in opinion about the role of the expert in a democracy. In other words, some will see the role of the scientist/expert to empower decision makers to take responsibility for their own choices by providing them with a set of options. Others will see the role to be something more along the lines of telling people what action they should take (i.e., narrowing the scope of choice). And of course such perspectives also reflect equity considerations, such as who wins and who loses among the users of the new pyramid (e.g., this is reflected in various comments on whether the expert target the informed and motivated public or the uniformed or otherwise disadvantaged public?). I'd pose the hypothesis that one's views on the pyramid's flexible structure will be closely correlated with one's views on the role of the scientist/expert as an honest broker or issue advocate.

Clearly the pyramid reflects a compromise of perspectives, and there is no such thing as a pure "honest broker". But it does seem that the present incarnation of the food pyramid reflects a move more in the direction of honest brokering than the previous version. The most important yet unanswered question from my standpoint is: Is there any evidence that the new incarnation better supports decision making than the past version or possible alternatives? The ultimate test of honest brokering and issue advocacy is the pragmatic test.

It's important to remember that the Food Pyramid was not created for "weight loss", it was created as a "general nutrition guide" to maintain average health.

It's supposed to be a general nutrition guide for healthy eating, so you must remember that it's not a tool meant to help you with fat loss and dieting.

In other words, it's not the best choice to help overweight people who want to get slim in a hurry.

Secondly, the new Food Pyramid is based on vague nutritional guidelines which are nearly as bureaucratic and vague as possible. It advocates that people should eat specific "ounces" of food based on a person's age, weight, gender, and other factors.

...But trying to calculate your daily food intake by using such vague guidelines is just not very fun or practical -- not to mention it's not very easy to do either.

In other words, it's not a solution for weight loss -- nor is it a practical solution for healthy eating each day. In fact, the Food Pyramid is just like most other government created "guidelines" --- which means it's the result of a bureaucratic effort which aims to give vague and general advice.

If you're looking to lose weight then you certainly don't want to use the new Food Pyramid as a tool to help you, since you likely won't see fast dieting results by doing that, since you must actually learn to spread out your daily food across more than 3 meals per day in order to lose weight fast.

To speed up your metabolism you must eat more often, not less often. You must eat more than 3 meals per day, and you must not follow some arbitrary guideline each day. Also, it's quite easy to figure out how big your food portions need to be when trying to lose weight and it has nothing to do with any pyramids.
About the Author
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