Posts tagged ‘the food pyramid’

April 2, 2012

Sugar Blues

Last night on 60 Minutes, I watched some excellent reporting on the hazards of sugar in our daily diets.

I needed to be reminded because, like most Americans, I need to cut down (out!) my sugar intake.

The information was not new to me. In high school, I read Sugar Blues and it changed the way I ate. The bestseller showed how a diet high in sugar was addictive and pernicious. Beyond obesity and diabetes, sugar was shown to cause mood swings or an emotional crash an hour or so after indulging.

Yet biologically, we are wired to love sugar — there’s nothing sweeter than mother’s milk.

I cannot cut sugar out entirely. I’m not giving up a glass of red wine, a thin slice of chocolate cake, or fruit yogurt. But I am going to slim down my portions.

I will try to follow the government’s recommendation on the food plate (formerly, the food pyramid). I think eating a variety of healthy foods, with an occasional sweet thrown in, is best.

There’s nothing better than an apple, a strawberry, or a handful of blueberries to satisfy a sweet craving. I’m constantly amazed that something so good tasting can also be so good for you. Because it’s way better to eat an orange than to drink orange juice, I’m cutting out fruit juices too.

Thanks 60 Minutes for this healthy reminder.

June 4, 2011

The Food Plate

The food pyramid is now the food plate. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Every year, I’d go into my kids’ classrooms and teach the kids about the food pyramid. I’d bring in posters I’d ordered free from mypyramid.gov. I had a whole spiel, talking with them about good eating habits.

The year they added the stairs to the side of the pyramid, I understood and ageed with the rationale — yes, of course, we should exercise — but felt the message was confusing. Does chasing a ball really have to do with eating healthy foods? (Maybe it does.) But the food pyramid, I thought, should be about eating the right foods.

There were and maybe still are very little discussions about how to eat healthily in public school classrooms — even though it’s something we do several times a day and kids enjoy sharing practical ideas about eating.

While the food pyramid required interpretation, the food plate is pretty obvious. Make your plate look like the one in the picture. Kids get that. I like that.

But even better than showing kids what to eat was letting them try it. I’d set up little plates for each kid with samples of each category of food — a spoonful of yogurt, broccoli, garbanzo beans, grapes, and popcorn. Kids loved it.

I’d also do some exercises on media literacy and food. I’d ask the kids, “What commercials have you seen for food lately?”

“Fruit gushers.”  “Big Macs.”  “Reese’s Puff cereal.”

“Right,” I said. “What about broccoli? Or grapes? Or chickpeas? Let’s make up our own commercials about vegetables, fruits, and beans.”

I assigned small groups to create commercials that included 1) some music 2) some tag line 3) some movement 4) some conflict. (Because, you know, conflict is the essence of drama. And we wanted the commercials to be dramatic.)

The commercials were very funny.

Invariably, one of the kids would ask, “Is it all right to eat candy?” “Yes,” I would say, “A tiny little bit is okay. Just not too much.”

One of the teachers suggested that I take my curriculum on the road to talk to more public school kids about healthy eating. I’d like to, but Michelle Obama seems to have that job. And she’s doing a pretty good job of it too.