Yes, it’s true. Guidelines are needed for almost everything we do in life including a nutritious, healthy diet. It benefits all of us to go to a reliable source that provides educated information so we can achieve success in making healthy choices for ourselves and our families. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) acclaims its new food guidance system, called MyPyramid, aids in helping us all make better choices, but are there other healthier guidelines out there? If so, would we end up being healthier with a different food plan? MyPyramid was revamped in 2005 to replace the original food plan that came into being in 1992 – a plan with little scientifically based nutrition background. Did the revamped pyramid miss a few opportunities and who will benefit from the plan? There are other healthy food systems approaching and promote much promise.
The Healing Foods Pyramid designed by the University of Michigan School of Integrative Medicine offers food that provides healing benefits, plant based choices, variety and balance, mindful eating and supports a healthy environment. The base of this particular pyramid is water, claiming most of us are dehydrated souls and dehydration is an unrecognized health issue. Fruits and vegetables are grounded at the base and supported by whole grains. Legumes take on an entire new category leaving not so much a priority other proteins such as meat, seafood and dairy. Healthy fats and seasoning share a board and most encouraging, there is a small spot at the top of the pyramid for indulgences such as coffee, chocolates and wine.
Ed Bauman, M.Ed., Ph.D., Director of Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, provides a healthy Eating 4 health Circle plan that encourages food that is organic, seasonal, nutrient rich and individualized. The Eating 4 Health guide’s outer circle is water much like the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Model’s healthy pyramid but it also includes mineral broth, herbal teas and fresh juice. Next within the circle is the arrival of leafy greens, crunchy vegetables, unrefined starches and seasonal fruit. Seaweed and algae along with nutritional yeast and spices line the fruit and vegetables categories revealing the importance of trace minerals that are not showing up so much in the modern standard diet. Eating 4 Health system values organic, seasonal whole food and considers it a way of life. According to Dr. Bauman, it is a beacon in the fog for those weary of yet another potential diet failure.
Dr. Walter C. Willett, M.D. and author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy – the Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating — uncovers a healthy new pyramid promoting health, not just agriculture. With the foundation of this particular pyramid applauding exercise and weight control, it elevates with whole, healthy grains, good plant oils, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes topped with small healthy portions of meat, poultry, eggs and seafood adding a multivitamin and a calcium tablet. Dr. Willett’s take on beverages is to drink pure water and moderate other beverages such as milk, coffee, alcohol and tea.
In general, healthy pyramids are out for a good cause -that is, to keep the body healthy.
There are striking similarities in most healthy plans:
Good advice to eat a plant based diet full of vegetables and fruits.
Keep calories in check and watch portion control.
Maintain healthy fats in the diet.
Always keep a daily exercise routine to complement the diet.