The "Food Pyramid" Concept

Many of us are very familiar with the depiction of the food pyramid. It is supposed to be an example of how we should structure our diet by dividing up various food groups depending on their nutritional value. For quite some time, the standard food pyramid was structured like this: At the bottom was “Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group” which one was supposed to consume 6-11 servings. The next tier was split between the “Vegetable Group” (3-5 servings) and the “Fruit Group” (2-4 servings), followed by another split tier between “Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, and Nuts Group” (2-3 servings) and “Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese” Group (2-3 servings). Finally, at the top of this picture that I would constantly see plastered along the walls of my elementary school, was the “Fats, Oils, and Sweets Group” (Use Sparingly).

While this may seem like a good standard to uphold when consulting nutrition, not everyone abides by this pyramid. Many people around the world have vastly different dietary needs and structure their food pyramids very differently.

Take Germany for example. Their food pyramid is a 3D model that organizes different food types by their relativity to other foods. I think that this is a great idea. It does not simply give a standard of food that one should consume but tells people that if they are going to eat this much of this type of food then they should eat that much of that type of food. Slovenia has a similar pyramid to the German model but it lacks a base and has a 2D aspect until put together.

The Greek model struck my eye for the fact that they have an entire tier dedicated to olive oil. Their pyramid is divided into monthly, weekly, and daily servings with “wine in moderation” to the side. I feel that this pyramid is really well structured and would probably look towards this as a basic guide for dietary consumption (with maybe a little less olive oil). The Spanish pyramid is similar to the Greek model, especially with olive oil in its own separate category, but puts more of an emphasis on water rather than wine.

Some countries throw away the idea of the pyramid altogether and go with designs such as a circular pie chart, a rainbow, and ascending steps. Putting aside the physical representation of dietary needs, it is clear to see that countries all around the world are taking steps to promote healthy eating (even if it's just one of many posters littering the walls of elementary schools). While in the US it may seem that our dietary focus as a whole has shifted towards something like the pyramid pictured above (which I find rather funny), we still have the choice to pick better foods that better fit our nutritional standards.