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What the New Food Pyramid Does—and Doesn’t—Offer

separator The U. S. Department of Agriculture recently upgraded its food pyramid from the 1992 version. The new one, at, is interactive and is designed to tailor itself to a person’s activity level and calorie requirements. There are 12 versions now, while before there was just one.

But some groups, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Harvard School of Public Health, criticize the pyramid. Among other things, they claim that the pyramid doesn’t emphasize the importance of replacing unhealthy food with healthy food, and it doesn’t tell people exactly what foods they should not be eating.

So—if you’re interested in viewing the pyramid, go right ahead. But if all you’re interested in is improving your eating habits, here’s basically what you need to know:

  • If you’re not eating lots of fruits and vegetables every day—5 to 9 servings—you should be.

  • The dairy products you eat should be low-fat or non-fat. That means you should avoid whole and 2 percent milk, and use skim milk instead, and avoid cheese and eat low-fat yogurt instead.

  • Replace most of the red meat you eat (especially hamburgers!) with chicken, fish and lean meats

  • Replace white bread, white rice and white pasta with whole grain bread, brown rice and whole wheat pasta

  • Avoid soft drinks

  • Cut down on salt

  • Stick with the portion sizes by reading the labels on food

Center for Science in the Public Interest; Harvard School of Public Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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