New Pyramid Unveiled

Will People with Diabetes Benefit?

| Jul 1, 2005

On April 19, 2005, the USDA Food Guide Pyramid was given a facelift for the first time in 13 years.

MyPyramid, which replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992, is part of an overall food guidance system “that emphasizes the need for a more individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle.”

“MyPyramid is about the ability of Americans to personalize their approach when choosing a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise,” says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

According to USDA, the MyPyramid symbol “represents the recommended proportion of foods from each food group and focuses on the importance of making smart food choices in every food group, every day.”

In addition, physical activity is a new element in the MyPyramid symbol.

Consumers are encouraged to go to the new Web site for more in-depth information on how they can make these choices fit their own needs.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, April 19, 2005

We asked Gerri French, MS/RD, CDE, to offer her perspectives on the new USDA Food Pyramid.

I love the new MyPyramid design, which shows a person climbing up the steps of the pyramid, a reminder that physical activity is as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.

However, to be able to appreciate the new comprehensive dietary recommendations, and specifically the personalization component, users need to go to the USDA’s Web site at

It is clear that the new USDA guidelines were not written for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome or women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, since the carbohydrate content from starchy vegetables, fruits, grains and milk remains at 50 percent of calories.

This year, there are 12 different food intake caloric patterns based on different age and activity levels that are identified when users enter the appropriate data. Because the method used to calculate calorie recommendations simply uses age, sex and activity level and does not include height, weight and body composition, its accuracy is questionable.

If, however, you are someone who follows a diet regimen that is 50 percent carbohydrate, 20 percent protein and 30 percent fat, MyPyramid will be more useful to you.

For my daily 1,800-calorie recommendations, the MyPyramid calculator told me I need three cups of milk or calcium equivalent from the dairy group, which also includes yogurt and cheese. The site offers no advice as to how I would receive the equivalent amount of protein if I did not eat dairy foods.

MyPyramid also advised me to eat only five ounces daily of foods from the meat and beans group, since the calculator assumed that I would receive an additional 24 grams of protein from the dairy group.

The vegetable group, which is quite confusing, makes food recommendations for the entire week, whereas the other recommendations are for each day. Interestingly, starchy vegetables like beans, corn and potatoes remain in the vegetable group, as do dried beans, peas and legumes. The calorie and carbohydrate differences between nonstarchy vegetables and beans are quite different.

The amount of grains recommended by MyPyramid is the same as in the previous pyramid, which is more than enough for most people.

Many people will be disappointed with how little fat is recommended, although liquid oils and plant fats such as avocado and nuts are encouraged more often than animal fats.

For more detailed nutritional information, readers of Diabetes Health should visit the “For Professionals” section of Better yet, consult with your certified diabetes educator and dietitian to personalize your nutrition program.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Diets, Food, Food News, Low Calorie & Low Fat

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