Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Food Pyramids

   A little while ago I asked on my facebook status, if you were to give yourself one food pyramid to follow which would it be? Like the pyramids in Egypt, Mexico and around the world, Each one is different, each one is distinct to it's region and most importantly it can be built to fit one's own needs.

I find history fascinating and the most fascinating aspect in history are pyramids. Of course the most known pyramids in history are those of the Egyptian Pharaohs, so we will look at Egyptian pyramids mostly. Don't think it's not fascinating to look only at Egyptian pyramids. There are hundreds of different pyramids.

   I know I am off topic....

To get back to the topic... The first pyramid didn't just show up just like food pyramids. Pyramids are tombs. In my opinion so are food pyramids. How do you want to look, feel, be when you go. that is what all pyramids are about. There was a time when pyramids didn't exist. It used to be that just like what many of us are used to that men were buried underground and signified with a stepping stone above ground. What does this have to do with your food? The history is all the same. Food pyramids started with the basics. first with the five main food groups  (milk and meat, cereals, vegetables and fruit, fats and fatty food, sugar and sugary foods). The only difference between an Egyptian pyramid and a food pyramid is that the first Egyptian pyramid was made to Empower the king. King Djoser was the first to create the stepping pyramid in Egypt and he wanted to do so to remind the people of his power. The food pyramid was made to empower the people of the country. FDR Pushed for changing the health status of Americans and because of this the basic five turned to the basic seven but it was to confusing so it not only went down but it went down even further to the basic four (milk, meat, fruits and vegetables, and grains). Apparently as Americans even that was to complicated. To explain it in servings for the day images were added to the mix and that became the start of the first food pyramid. Like the Egyptian pyramids it took some time to actually get to the first food pyramid. Actually it only took about 3 years. the guidelines for the pyramid were recommended by scientists but thanks to the cattle, egg, and dairy industry and there anger towards the attacks on high fatty foods the guidelines were not completely set until the 1980s with the help of the USDA and the actual image wasn't put in place until 1992. Of course the pyramid built for Djoser may have taken a little longer but it is the same concept. It took time, research and care to build such a place. As said the real major difference is that the Egyptian pyramids were built for the kings while the food pyramid was built for the people. Each with care for the people they were intended to be built for.

    Like all the Egyptian pyramids all the food pyramids are different. This really is due to the fact that each country and nation had their own different diets that derive from the land itself just like the pyramids of Egypt. and even in those lands there are people who just want to be unique and want to find their own way of staying healthy and to top it off pyramids change as others put their hands on it. The pyramid of Djoser, for instance has two entrances. One that was put in before it was complete and the other was put in later on when people tried to get inside. With the Atkin's diet things changed as everyone realized that it wasn't exactly the healthiest way to go for everyone. When the book about the diet came out what people didn't pay attention to was that the pyramid of carbs at the top was there up until you got to the end of your journey when you integrate carbs back in. To be honest the pyramid didn't even exist until people started complaining. years later you have a pyramid showing all the food groups with proteins being essential because people got a hold of it and the company realized that they need to change it in order for them to fit the new mold of what American's want today. Same with the Mediterranean pyramid. This is one I love, ever since my last trip to Israel it has opened my eyes. It is one of the only pyramids where lifestyle is the first level then beverages (mainly water) and then they get to the food. That to has changed over the years. In fact the first "pyramid" to have had any physical activity placed in it was the French's pyramid which wethre really stairs and in the middle was working out with the family. The Mediterranean diet changes within e Mediterranean area. In Israel Dates and Pomegranates along with olive oil and wine (and no not Manischevitz). In Southern Italy Fish is very popular in there Mediterranean style diet. Each place has a different view on the same pyramid mainly because of the land they live in. Israel's farm land thrives with dates and pomegranates and they also have plenty of grapes and a religion where wine is not only a gift but a traditional law to drink wine on most holidays. In Italy Goats milk is more common because there is not enough land for cows to graze on and because goat milk just taste better (I know, it's Italy everything tastes better).


 Let's head back to the states. In the states we have decided to take the Greek version of the Mediterranean diet and call it the healthy way to live. For the most part it is a great healthy way to live but not for everyone. the Greeks enjoy their wines, cheeses, olives and olive oil, and nuts. Have you ever seen a person with no gallbladder scarf down the amount of nuts some people scarf down. It's funny when your watching it not funny when you are actually the person eating the nuts. What if you don't like olives? I am talking about myself in this case. High fat foods doesn't matter if that is healthy fat or if that is from the chips you are about to grab from the cabinet, it is not good to have when a gallbladder is missing. Hence the pyramid as much as I love the concept is not for myself. Which leads me to the most important aspect of this blog. EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL NEEDS A DIFFERENT PYRAMID. I am not kidding here. I would never let someone with high cholesterol go on the Atkin's diet, I would never allow someone who can't break down fats easily to go on the Mediterranean diet, I wouldn't recommend the Vegan pyramid to anyone who tells me they love meat. I would recommend the Vegan pyramid to someone who asked, the Mediterranean diet to certain people with that lifestyle, and the Dash pyramid to those trying to lower cholesterol and sodium. Get my drift. That's why I put up the question. I have listened to many people ask for advise and which way they should go. I recommended the Atkin's diet to a friend after she mentioned how comfortable she was going that route, I recommend the runner's pyramid to the obvious people but not just for runners but bikers, swimmers, and many other high fitness people. Keep in mind that even within the pyramids things change. Each person is unique it's just a matter of putting guidelines to what they are comfortable with and what works with their bodies.

On all of that note I want to answer my own question. After researching numerous pyramids, plates, and even stairs I came to the conclusion that I really like switching it up. I go from Paleo pyramid or the Atkin's Pyramid to the Eatright plate or the Meditarranean pyramid depending on how I feel and how much of a work out I am going to get that day. I also do like Canada's rainbow of foods but keep in mind it is rather similar to the Eatright plate.

By the way did you know that there is a zombie food pyramid. I kid you not my research lead me to this pyramid and I am a little grossed out but it was really funny to see.

Till Next Time!