New Guidelines for a New You

Many of us have seen the old Food Guide Pyramid that takes you on a journey through eating that is sometimes difficult to follow. Many people simply don’t want to spend a lot of time measuring out their food based on ounces and whether or not it fits into the palm of their hand.  

The new food guidance system based on Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (2005) introduces us all to a new way to individualize programs and emphasizes weight control and the importance of physical activity.

Unlike the old Food Guide Pyramid, new recommendations are tailored to individual needs.  Introduced as “My Pyramid,” it has six major components:

  1. Be Active. 

The updated guidelines recommend physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.  For weight maintenance 30-60 minutes per day is recommended, and for weight loss that number jumps to 60-90 minutes per day.

  1. Moderation.

  It is important to limit consumption of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and sugar which also means decreasing your intake of full-fat meats, processed food and sweets.

  1. Personalization. 

To meet individual needs, there is no longer one universal pyramid.  Caloric and food group recommendations are based on gender, current activity level and age.

  1. Portion Control.

  The new pyramid bases measurements on common household standards so it is easier for everyone to measure individual portions.

  1. Variety.

  The new pyramid includes all of the food groups daily so that you can achieve the highest level of nutrient intake.  In addition, suggestions are even made based on colors of foods, making it easier to understand which foods offer the most nutritional value.

  1. Make Gradual Improvements.

  The job of fitness professionals is to help each individual they work with create a plan for exercise and diet that will sustain behavioral change.  If someone exercises only once a week, then there should be gradual increases in activity that could lead to five or six days a week within four to six months.  All goals should be behavior-based rather than focusing on weight loss only.

Eating right and exercising is something we all have to learn how to do properly based on our own individual needs and abilities.  However, being able to simplify all of the information to make it easier to understand can jumpstart a program of fitness and dietary change.

With any new program or newly created goal, the change that is created is most successful when done over time.  If you would like to see more details on the new Food Guide Pyramid, please visit www.mypyramid.com.

Victoria MacKenzie, the group fitness coordinator for Ramona Fitness Center, has been a fitness instructor and personal trainer for 10 years.

   
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