Wellness Pathway #267 Food Pyramid Fun

By now you probably know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced a new Food Pyramid in April 2005. The goal was to both develop a simple, new diagram of what Americans should eat daily and to develop a robust website, MyPyramid.gov, that could be personalized to fit individualized needs.

The website has been a big hit, receiving more than half a billion (yes, billion) hits since it was first introduced. There is also a companion website, MyPyramidTracker.gov, which enables people to analyze their eating and exercise patterns in terms of the USDA recommendations. It’s even possible to create a unique login so you can save your history and review your progress over time.

In the June 8, 2005 issue of USA Today, five designers were challenged to give the new Food Pyramid a makeover. One used a square divided into quadrants, another used bowls, while the others used pie charts, concentric circles, and an upside down pyramid. It was both refreshing and illuminating to see the Pyramid laid out in these different ways.

I appreciated the bowls, with the biggest bowl being physical activity. This was, in fact, the only alternate design that captured this key recommendation of the USDA pyramid. Daily physical activity is essential for good health.

The square diagram was the one that drove home to me, again, the limitations of the USDA recommendations. 50% of the square, the entire right side, encompasses grains and dairy — two food groups that are essential to our economy but not to our health. These food groups were introduced to the human diet with the advent of agriculture, no more than 10,000 years ago, and are responsible for the overpopulation of the earth. But that doesn’t make them good.

Dairy is a curious food. What other animal goes around drinking the milk of other animals? What other animal goes around drinking milk after infancy? When viewed in these terms, dairy represents a very curious — and unnecessary — food group indeed. This one we can do without.

Grain, especially milled grain, is an accommodation to the storage and transportation requirements of human society. White flour was developed because it could sit on the shelf, without refrigeration, for extremely long periods of time without spoiling. It offers lots of calories but almost no nutrition. The more processed the grain, the better it is to avoid. In our family, we limit our grain intake to the occasional consumption of oats and rice (both brown and wild). Wheat, rye, and barley — all high in gluten — are grains we avoid.

So it was eye opening for me to graphically see just how different our eating pattern is from the USDA Food Pyramid. We get virtually all of our calories from Vegetables, Fruits, and lean, organic Meats (such as wild fish, shellfish, buffalo, chicken, turkey, and ostrich). This way of eating may not be politically palatable for the USDA to advocate, but this way of eating — a modified form of the Paleolithic Diet — is an extremely healthy approximation of the original human diet that I recommend to all my clients.

Coach Inquiries: What percentage of your calories come from dairy and grain? Are your weight, health, energy, allergies, and food sensitivities the way you want them to be? How far would you be willing to go in order to shift in the right direction? What’s stopping you from taking action right now?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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