The food pyramid, developed by experts from the Institute of Food and Nutrition, presents in a simple and clear way the most important principles of healthy eating and lifestyle. What does the newest food pyramid look like? How to read it?
What is the nutritional pyramid?
The 2020 food pyramid was published four years earlier, in 2016. Its exact name is the healthy eating and physical activity pyramid. It is a graphical representation of the general idea of proper nutrition. The creators of the pyramid assure that adherence to the principles outlined in it increases the chances of living a healthy and long life and maintaining intellectual and physical fitness into old age.
Food pyramid is directed to healthy people. In the case of civilization diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, it may be necessary to modify the recommendations presented in the pyramid. Therefore, people suffering from various diseases should additionally consult with their doctor or dietician. In many cases, the principles contained in the healthy food pyramid are useful not only in prevention, but also in the treatment of diseases of civilization.
What does a food pyramid look like?
The food pyramid consists of six levels. At its base there are different forms of physical activity. The next tier is vegetables and fruit, followed by cereal products. This is one of the main differences between the new food pyramid and the previous recommendations, where cereals were at the very bottom, followed by fruit and vegetables. In the middle of the pyramid is milk and dairy products. The penultimate level is meat, fish and pulses. At the very top of the food pyramid are nuts, seeds and fats.
The food pyramid also includes recommendations for drinks and spices: Water, tea, coffee and herbs and spices are shown. Sugar and salt have been crossed out.
How to interpret the healthy eating and physical activity pyramid?
The food pyramid is a graphical representation of the proportions of food groups necessary in the daily diet. Products appearing on the lowest level of the pyramid, i.e. vegetables and fruit, should be present in our diet in the greatest amount. The higher the level, the smaller quantity and frequency of consumption of products from a given group.
However, the food pyramid should be treated as a guideline, not as an iron rule. Each of us is different, we have different diseases and food intolerances, which exclude some food products from the menu. So, for example, if you are lactose intolerant, your pyramid will look a little different and the floor with dairy products will be occupied by lactose-free dairy products and plant-based milk substitutes. People who are gluten intolerant or suffer from coeliac disease, must follow a gluten-free diet, which means excluding all products containing wheat and other gluten cereals.
Importantly, at the bottom of the pyramid is physical activity. It is an inseparable element of a healthy lifestyle. Similarly to proper nutrition, it has a positive influence on our health and well-being. Every day we should provide ourselves with a portion of physical activity (30-45 minutes) adjusted to the possibilities of our organism. These do not have to be intensive workouts. Sometimes a simple walk or a quiet ride on a bicycle will suffice.
Food pyramid - description and 10 principles of healthy nutrition
- Eat regularly! Eat 4-5 meals a day at equal intervals, every 3-4 hours.
- Have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Eat at least 400 g of fruit and vegetables a day, in at least five portions. Of which vegetables should make up the majority, about ¾, and fruit - ¼.
- Reach for whole grain cereal products.
- Consume the equivalent of two glasses of milk every day. If you are lactose intolerant, you can replace it with vegetable drinks enriched with calcium. Yogurt, kefir and - in smaller quantities - cheese are also recommended.
- Limit your meat intake, especially red and processed meat, to 0.5 kg per week. Provide a variety of protein sources - fish, pulses and eggs.
- Replace animal fats with vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
- Limit your intake of sugar and sweets. The sweet taste will provide you with healthy substitutes - fruit, nuts and home baking prepared from healthy, unprocessed products.
- Reach for low-salt products and don't add salt to your food. Use herbs and other natural spices - they not only improve the taste but also have valuable ingredients, including antioxidant properties.
- Remember about proper hydration. Drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day. You can also quench your thirst with tea and coffee without added sugar, herbal and fruit infusions, but pure mineral water should be the main source of hydration.
- Do not drink alcohol, or limit the amount of alcohol significantly.
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