While the old food pyramid wasn’t very colorful and featured foods stacked on top of each other, the new food pyramid looks more like a pie graph in the form of a triangle, or pyramid. Slivers of food groups are side-by-side, making it easy to see how much of one group you should consume throughout a given day.
The old food pyramid, on the other hand, had pictures of food stacked on top of each other in the form of blocks. The pictures were sometimes hard to decipher and it was a bit unclear how much food comprised one serving. You had to read the list on the left side to figure out just how many foods made up one serving; for example, 1 cup of milk, 2 slices of cheese or 1 cup of fruit equaled one serving. The new food pyramid makes it easy to figure out serving sizes. For example, in one day, you should consume:
- 6 ounces of grains
- 2.5 cups of vegetables
- 2 cups of fruit
- 3 cups of milk
- 5.5 ounces of meat and beans
Both pyramids attempt to encourage people to choose healthy foods instead of unhealthy, fattening foods. The old pyramid is just a little bit harder to decipher because it is filled with charts that you must read in order to understand the blocks.
Here are some other ways the new food pyramid is different:
People who are dieting should eat the lowest recommended serving of each food group per day, while people who are trying to gain weight should eat the highest recommended serving on the new food pyramid. The pyramid also encourages you to eat healthy foods your body needs without counting calories, which can limit your nutritional intake and lead to health problems.
The pyramid specifies that at least half the grains you consume should be whole grains, while you should also vary the types and colors of fruits and vegetables you eat.
It also recommends that you “go easy” on fruit juices, eat low-fat or fat-free dairy products, avoid frying and limit solid fats, like butter and margarine, as much as possible. It also advises you to eat lean cuts of meat while also adding seafood and beans in place of meat when possible.
The new food pyramid also recommends avoiding foods high in sugar, saturated fats, trans fats and sodium.
Finally, the side of the new food pyramid features a set of stairs with a person walking up them. It recommends that adults should be physically active for at least 30 minutes “most days of the week” while children are physically active for at least 60 minutes of those days. Also, the pyramid advises that “sixty to 90 minutes of daily physical activity may be needed to prevent weight gain or sustain weight loss.” The old food pyramid, on the other hand, didn’t discuss exercise at all.