Even for those of us who want to eat a balanced diet, how to do so can be a challenge. Yes, you know that maybe you should eat more vegetables and less salty or sugary snacks. But just how should individuals plan their diet for healthy eating?
What are Food Pyramids?
In 1942, Canada introduced its first food pyramid in response to wartime food rationing. The overall goal was to improve the health of Canadians by outlining the right foods, food groups, vitamins and minerals that are needed for proper nutrition. So a food pyramid helps you improve your diet by giving guidelines for healthier eating.
How Do Food Pyramids Help Us Eat Better?
Food guides can be confusing. But the points below will help you understand them and show you how to use them to improve your diet.
- The Food Groups – The food groups outlined in the Canada Food Guide are vegetables and fruit; grain products; milk and alternatives; and meat and alternatives.
- Guidance on the Foods in Each Group – While it may be easy to understand which foods are in the vegetables and fruit group, others aren’t so straightforward. One example is the milk and meat alternatives you can choose.
- Numbers of Servings Per Day – A food guide will recommend the number of servings you should consume each day of each food group. The Canada Food Guide breaks down its recommendations for males and females in different age groups.
- The Size of a Serving – To be clearer on how much of each food you should eat, food guides tell you exactly what constitutes a ‘serving’ of the foods in a group.
- Helpful Advice – A food pyramid helps individuals plan for healthier eating in other ways too. For example, in the vegetables and fruits group, it advises to “eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable” each day. It also encourages you to consult nutrition labels for guidelines on vitamins, minerals and calories in the foods you eat.
What a Food Pyramid Doesn’t Tell You
The Canada Food Guide doesn’t tell you how many calories to consume each day. Each individual is different and their calorie requirements will be different. Also, foods that may be considered as dairy products, like eggs and milk, actually belong to different food groups.
Finally, it might be difficult for you to fit a certain food into one of the food groups. For example, the ingredients of a Herbal One Goodie Protein Bar falls into two food groups, but you might not know it!
If you liked this post, check out our last article on how can an apple a day can help keep the weight away.