We’ve all been watching the evolution of the government’s attempt to tell us the healthiest way to eat for a while now. They use graphics to tell us the story of what foods we should consume. Using a picture story is a way to reach non-literate people as well as a more appealing tactic than a lecture.
Here’s the original official United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food pyramid from 1992
According to Wikipedia, “It was updated in 2005 with colorful vertical wedges replacing the horizontal sections and renamed MyPyramid. MyPyramid was often displayed with the food images absent, creating a more abstract design.”
I love the figure running up the stairs to get to the top. If it were the older version, it would be chasing after the fats, oils and sweets (like most of us.) You can see how stories emerge from the visuals.
Take this charming illustration from The Harvard School of Public Health
I was wondering what the feet at the bottom were supposed to represent until I read their tips for following the Healthy Eating Pyramid and then I realized that exercise is the biggest component. The items floating on the upper left corner indicate taking vitamins and drinking booze. The website says that “moderate drinking for many people can have real health benefits, but it’s not for everyone. Those who don’t drink shouldn’t feel that they need to start.”
The Mayo Clinic has taken a stance to embrace them all and gives you options at their website. You can click on an interactive pyramid to get a choice of Asian, Mediterranean, Mayo Clinic, Vegetarian and Latin American diets plus the new My Plate from the USDA
Now, the USDA doesn’t want you to get confused so they’ve simplified the chart down to a visual we can all understand; a divided plate. No stairs, no pictures of beautiful fresh veggies and blood dripping meat. Just the facts, unembellished, straightforward and, in my opinion, it doesn’t tell the whole story.