Another change to the “Food Pyramid”???

Well, maybe the USDA will get a little closer to reality rather than be influenced by the big food industry…

The USDA has had a  long standing history of making changes to it’s guidelines starting in the late 1880’s through the present:


The first USDA food guidelines were written Wilbur Atwater, an agricultural chemist, as a chart. These food guidelines included the amount of water, protein, fat, and carbohydrates in each type of food.



“Food for Young Children” by Caroline Hint identified the 5 major food groups for children 3-6years old–milk and meat, cereals, vegetables and fruit, fast and fatty foods, and sugar and sugary foods. The main rule in preparation for children’s meals is that they be “carefully prepared and attractively served.”




1920 – 1940

During this time period, the USDA released several pamphlets encouraging Americans to eat a wide variety of foods. In this pamphlet titled “Choose Your Food Wisely,” it is advised that the public eat some food from each of the five food groups daily.






In the 1940’s the USDA released the seven different food groups in it’s new “Food Wheel.” It advised Americans to eat at least one  serving of leafy green or yellow vegetables, one serving of citrus fruit, tomatoes  or raw cabbage, one serving of potatoes or other vegetables/fruits, three to four cups of milk, one to two servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dried peas or beans, one serving of bread, flour or cereal, and some butter or fortified margarine every day.



During this time frame, the USDA’s motto was “Food for Fitness.” This chart cut the food groups down to four groups:

  •  Milk
  •  Meat
  •  Vegetables/Fruits
  •  Breads/Cereals

The underlying message here was to eat what was needed for  energy.


In 1979 the “Hassle-Free Food Guide” was introduced which broke meals down into the four groups with a side of caution for fats and sweets.

It was at this time when Fruits and Vegetables climbed to the top of the page followed by four servings of bread/cereal, two to four servings of milk/cheese, and two servings of meat, poultry or beans.




Late 1980’s

Here in the late 1980’s the USDA published the Seven Rules in it’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” which was the first time the USDA emphasized avoiding too much sodium and drinking alcohol in moderation.




This is the most familiar of the guides to most of us. The bottom layer is dedicated to breads/cereals/rice/pasta. Vegetables/Fruits too  up the second layer. Milk products and meats are on the third layer and fats/oils/sweets are on top. The most misleading aspect of this is the fact that some saw the top of the pyramid as the most important  leading to confusion over the amount of fats a person should consume.


The most recent update to the food pyramid was titled “Steps to a Healthier You” indicating the addition of Exercise. This too was perceived as confusing by not specifying amounts of servings or identify the oil groups very well.



The Present

Well, here is the USDA’s newest version known as the “Food Plate.” They are getting closer, but in my opinion, we need to reduce the amount of Grains, which are pro-inflammatory, and the amount of Dairy, which is mucus forming. Otherwise I think this is a lot better to live with than the pyramids we have seen in the past.




2 Responses

  1. I can’t help but think of the ‘DAIRY’ plate in the current recommendations as a nodule… or possibly a brain cyst.

    I am constantly amazed that I bought into such shabby and economically motivated recommendations from the USDA for as long as I did.

    I am glad that today I know that my body does not require milk from another mammal and that I can get all the protein my body requires from whole grains.

    Thank you for such a well-researched blog post. I’m sending a few friends over.

  2. Thank you for this most interesting information, there is so much conflicting and therefore confusing advice out there and this seems to me to be the best! Thanks Lynne for directing me here.

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