Monday, June 6, 2011

Plating the American Diet

I'm exploring, the web site for the place setting graphic which replaces the food pyramid. Certainly this is an improvement visually, and it's good that "meat" is now "protein" and there's encouragement for drinking water. But the new scheme also has its critics. If you care about the environmental impact of what you eat, you will need to tack on those values to guide your food choices, like seasonal, local and sustainably harvested seafood. If you care about the glycemic index, then you will also need to modify these guidelines accordingly. (For example, choose fruit, not juice, and limit the flour in your diet.) And if you believe that humans should not eat grains (that is, that our digestive systems have not evolved in 12,000 years) or that adults should not drink milk, then you aren't going to be happy with the plate and its accompanying glass. But for a quick reminder it's, well, a graphic graphic.

Nosing around on the site, I found some items of interest.

There is a resource list for vegetarians. This seems significant to me, particularly for children and young people who decide not to eat animals without knowing much about nutrition.
Though why do I think it's only young people that don't have basic nutritional information?

The ten tip series
seems pretty helpful - and perhaps refrigerator postable. I'm happy to see the increased emphasis on watching sodium in foods.

Looking at the personalized eating plan calculator, the results seem to be pretty much what they were with mypyramid. You plug in age, weight and activity level and choose whether you want to maintain your weight or lose slowly. Then you get a list of daily and weekly choices from the different groups. So while myplate is a more useful visual, the detail is there for those who want to design their own eating plan specifics.

If you follow the trails and links at choosemyplate you will also find your way to the background information, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. The appendices may be the best part of this document. I just printed out two of them, one on adapting the guidelines to a vegetarian diet (Actually, the only difference is that this tells me how to distribute my protein choices among non-meat items. You'd think it would be a little heavier on the whole grains and dark, leafy greens.) - the other a list of high potassium foods. I wish the trails were a little more clearly marked, though, as having closed that window, I can't seem to figure out how I got there.

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