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Objective One

  • Analyze your compliance with the dietary guidelines set forth by MyPyramid and the Word of Wisdom

In understanding and educating about nutrition and menu planning, we’ve gone from the Four Food Groups to the Food Pyramid and now, new in 2005, to the new food guide pyramid, called MyPyramid. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now emphasizes a simple, personalized approach to healthy eating and has an added element of physical activity in the new pyramid.

The new food guide pyramid, MyPyramid.
The new food guide pyramid, MyPyramid.
Courtesy of the USDA

Let’s review some nutrition basics that haven’t changed, then look at how MyPyramid differs from the Food Pyramid that we had been using since 1992. Besides water, the human body needs five basic nutrients to remain healthy--protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are important because they provide the body with energy in the form of calories. Both carbohydrates and protein supply four calories per gram, while fats provide nine calories per gram. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for a number of vital cell functions. Many of us, in an attempt to eat healthily or to lose weight, are bombarded with various opinions on nutrition and its effect on the human body. Making food choices doesn’t have to be complicated.

As you probably remember, in the Food Pyramid, the foods groups were arranged horizontally, with the groups from which it was recommended we consume the most (breads, cereals, grains, etc.) on the bottom of the pyramid and those from which it was recommended we consume the least (fats and sweets) were found at the top. Since the basics of nutrition haven’t changed, it’s no surprise that when you get down to it, MyPyramid doesn’t change the previous recommendations much. MyPyramid, with a graphic of a person climbing stairs up the pyramid, does remind us the importance of daily physical activity. The bands on MyPyramid now run vertically, with each food group having its own color. The food groups haven’t changed. There is still a group for grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, milk, and meat and beans. The colored bands representing each group are of different widths, indicating that foods from some groups should be consumed more than foods from others. Each colored band also graduates in size, from wide at the bottom to narrow at the top. This is to illustrate that foods from one group are not all equal. The wider base represents foods with little or no fat or added sugar, while the narrow tip represents foods in the same group containing more fats and sugars. For example, when you are considering foods from the grains group, a slice of whole wheat bread would be at the base, while a donut would be at the tip. Same group, but not the same nutritionally. Eat more of foods at the wide base and fewer foods toward the narrow tip.

Something new to MyPyramid is to customize a daily calorie and food choice plan, based on your gender, age and activity level. The Food Pyramid that we have used in the past wasn’t designed with such individuality in mind. As of 2007, optional on the website is to enter your height and weight. However, you can obtain a daily recommendation without this information. The only required fields are age, gender and activity level. The following table shows recommendations from both the Food Pyramid and MyPyramid for a 10 year old female with moderate activity (1,800 calories/day), a 25 year old female with moderate activity level (2,200 calories/day), and a 30 year old male with high activity level (3,000 calories/day). This allows you to see how well MyPyramid customizes for each individual with specific recommendations of ounces or cups. MyPyramid, when used correctly, takes out a lot of guess work that came from the ranges given in the Food Pyramid. As you consider the table, you’ll see that the recommendations for most foods are still in the same range as before; they are just more specific for individual needs.

  10 year old female 25 year old female 30 year old male
Grains (Food Pyramid) 6-11 servings(approximately 6-11 ounces) 6-11 servings(approximately 6-11 ounces) 6-11 servings(approximately 6-11 ounces)
Grains (MyPyramid) 6 ounces 7 ounces 10 ounces
Vegetables (Food Pyramid) 3-5 servings(approximately 1.5-5 cups, depending on type and preparation) 3-5 servings(approximately 1.5-5 cups, depending on type and preparation) 3-5 servings(approximately 1.5-5 cups, depending on type and preparation)
Vegetables (MyPyramid) 2.5 cups 3 cups 4 cups
Fruit (Food Pyramid) 2-4 servings(approximately 1-3 cups, depending on type and preparation) 2-4 servings(approximately 1-3 cups, depending on type and preparation) 2-4 servings(approximately 1-3 cups, depending on type and preparation)
Fruit (MyPyramid) 1.5 cups 2 cups 2.5 cups
Milk (Food Pyramid) 2-3 servings(approximately 2-3 cups) 2-3 servings(approximately 2-3 cups) 2-3 servings(approximately 2-3 cups)
Milk (MyPyramid) 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups
Meat & Beans (Food Pyramid) 2-3 servings(approximately 4-9 ounces) 2-3 servings(approximately 4-9 ounces) 2-3 servings(approximately 4-9 ounces)
Meat & Beans (MyPyramid) 5 ounces 6 ounces 7 ounces

So, why even worry about what you are eating? Why is a “balanced” diet so important? The following is a review of each group found in MyPyramid and a brief description of the importance of each group in a healthy eating plan.

Grains Group

The main nutrients in this group are complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give your body energy. MyPyramid recommends that you make half of your grain choices whole grains because they also contain iron, B vitamins, and fiber.

Vegetables Group

Foods from this group provide your body with vitamins and minerals. These foods can also be rich in fiber. Since they are high in complex carbohydrates, some people wonder if potatoes fit in this group or in the breads group. Because of their nutritional contributions and the manner in which they are grown, we will place potatoes in the vegetables group. MyPyramid suggests, however, that you eat more dark-green and orange vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes since they are richer in nutrients.

Fruits Group

Fruits provide the body with simple carbohydrates. Citrus fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C. The fruits group also provides the body with fiber. MyPyramid recommends eating a variety of fruits and limiting your intake of fruit juices.

Milk Group

This group is known chiefly for providing the body with calcium, iron, and protein. Depending on the choices you make, milk products can also provide your body with fat, which is a needed nutrient. Still, MyPyramid suggests low-fat or fat-free milk products when possible. If you don’t or can’t consume milk, try lactose-free products or calcium-fortified foods and juices.

Meat & Beans Group

Foods from this group are usually rich in protein and iron. These foods can also be high in fat, so choose wisely. MyPyramid recommends that you select low-fat or lean meats and that you bake, broil, or grill your meats. Also, vary your protein sources. Don’t forget fish, nuts, beans, peas, and seeds.

Fats, Oils and Sweets

Foods rich in fat and sugar provide you with what can be referred to as “empty calories.” Because these foods give you calories for energy, but not much in the way of nutrients, it is recommended that you consume these sparingly. Your individualized plan will tell you how many "discretionary" calories you can consume each day in the form of desserts and added fats and sugars. MyPyramid reminds you to make most of your fat sources from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Limit solid fats such as butter, margarine, and shortening.

Physical Activity

Finally, another new aspect of MyPyramid is the addition of recommended physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. It recognizes that up to 60 minutes per day may be needed to prevent weight gain and up to 90 minutes per day for weight loss. According to the new guidelines, children and teenagers should be physically active for 60 minutes per day. So, when planning your day and your meals, don’t forget to plan your exercise.

The Word of Wisdom

The doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with which Brigham Young University is affiliated, contains a code of health to which its members adhere. Recorded in section eighty-nine of a book of canonized scripture comprised of modern revelation known as the Doctrine and Covenants, this code, known as “The Word of Wisdom,” emphasizes the importance of properly nourishing our physical bodies.

Modern dietary guidelines confirm the basic instructions outlined in this revelation received by the first President of the Church, Joseph Smith, Jr., on February 27, 1833. The Word of Wisdom highlights the fundamental role that grains play in building a strong nutritional foundation, citing grain as the staff of life for both humans and animals (Doctrine and Covenants 89: 14-16). According to this revelation, all wholesome herbs, including vegetables, as well as fruits are to be enjoyed by mankind with prudence and thanksgiving (Doctrine and Covenants 89:10-11). Meat is likewise ordained for human consumption, but only to be eaten sparingly (Doctrine and Covenants 89:12-13). MyPyramid, which also stresses eating grains, vegetables, fruits and protein such as that found in meat, suggests that following this same pattern will produce overall health.

The last few verses of Doctrine and Covenants 89 contain promises for those who abide by the guidelines in the Word of Wisdom. Not only will followers enjoy physical health and strength, but they are also given the additional promise of the ability to acquire wisdom and knowledge (Doctrine and Covenants 89:19-21).

Reading Assignment

  • Betty Crocker’s Cookbook: Read “Nutrition Glossary,” page 34, and "Steps to a Healthier You," page 35.
  • Consult the new 2005 USDA MyPyramid ( web site to determine the new recommended serving ranges for you.
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