Many of us who were of reading age in the year 1992 remember the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid. The classic pyramid image of dividing grains, dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables, and items that should be eaten only sparingly at the tip-top of the pyramid became engrained in the American public’s minds.
People complained about the fact that the 1992 Food Guide Pyramid provided no guidance on weight loss or chronic disease prevention, and was thus reformulated to “MyPyramid” in 2005, and again updated and replaced in 2011, with MyPlate. To this day, many Americans aren’t aware that the 1992 Food Guide Pyramid is now defunct, and even fewer are aware there was a 2005 update to the pyramid, which eventually was 100% replaced with a different method to measure appropriate portions and food group guidelines, called by MyPlate – also endorsed by the USDA.
The Flaws of the 1992 Food Pyramid
The purpose of the Food Pyramid Guide was to give concrete advice to Americans about how much to consume from each food group on a daily basis for optimal health. However, it did not come without its drawbacks. For instance, certain dietary choices are linked to heart disease, such as eating too much meat. Here, we will examine the flaws of the serving recommendations listed by the 1992 Food Guide Pyramid, broken down by food group.
- Grains: Carbohydrates were of little concern to nutritionists in 1992, not to mention that the types of grains recommended were problematic. The pyramid did not emphasize whole gains instead of refined grains. Also, people may have thought they were having a serving of any given grain type, when in reality they were having multiple servings.
- Meat: The food pyramid permitted 8 ounces (230 grams) of meat per day, with no differentiation between this protein-rich group, including poultry, fish, and meat. It has since been definitively proven that a daily 8 ounce serving of beef hamburger meat is linked to heart disease.
- Dairy: Another problem of the Food Pyramid Guide was the suspicion that “Big Dairy” lobbying groups pushed to include higher serving suggestions on the pyramid than were necessary, and the fear is this practice continues to this day.
- Vegetables: This food group was the least controversial in the food pyramid, although the newest recommendations state people should have a higher vegetable intake. Vegetables provide ample vitamins, minerals, fiber, high water-content, and are very low in calories. The pyramid included a minimum recommendation of at least 3-5 servings per day. However, it did not differentiate between non-starchy, leafy green vegetables and starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes.
- Fruit: The old food pyramid recommended 2-4 servings of fruit, citing them as an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and so on. However, fruit is a source of sugar as well, and should be eaten in some moderation to reap the benefits they provide. For instance, fruit juice is not considered a serving of fruit, even if the bottle says so! It lacks fiber, which is a crucial component to a whole fruit, and is often loaded with added sugar.
What Food Guidelines Should I Be Following Today?
We will explore the modern food guidelines in an upcoming blog, to describe what MyPlate is, and why you should educate yourself on nutrition, and pay attention to more than simply counting calories and slashing carbs.
Interested in further information from Primary Care Associates of Texas on what your diet should look like, or want to learn more about how we can help you lose weight in a healthy way? Contact us for an appointment at or simply book your appointment online!