Use A Food Pyramid Diagram to Help You Visualize a Balanced Healthy Diet

A food pyramid diagram provides a pyramid shaped representation of healthy eating. At the bottom of the triangle you consume the most of these food types, and at the smallest tip, the top of the pyramid, you should keep these foods to a minimum.

Because the pyramid is a diagram rather than text, it is easy to remember the quantities of each of the major food groups included. It also means you don't have to weigh or measure foods, so it simplifies preparing nutritious meals by allowing a rough and ready guide to healthy eating.

These kinds of food pyramid diagrams offer you a way of visualizing how to balance what you eat.

Any food pyramid diagram worth its 'salt' (excuse the expression!) will be based upon national guidelines, such as the US Department of Health or the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. It should clearly state its origin. If not, be wary!

Here's my favorite one, particular because it's one of few that include WATER, which is absolutely vital to any weight loss program - see Drinking Water and Weight Loss

For kids and teens

Here's a fun, easy explanation for children at Stirling University: Kids Corner Food Pyramid Diagram

The food we eat as a child - usually based on family eating habits and 'sins' of the parents - can shape our own eating habits for life. So it is very important that children understand the basic nutrition and benefits of healthy eating to their growing bodies and minds and learn to eat well.

Psychology research shows that children don't understand much about good and bad food types until after age eight. So make new foods exciting rather than intelligent: make them curious, offer small tasters, involve them in the preparation and cooking.

Some kids and teenagers can become quite faddy eaters, but this is generally a temporary stand (e.g. a diet of pizza and coke! or suddenly cutting out certain food groups). Keep going with the recommendations and family meal planning and keep a food pyramid diagram somewhere your kids can't miss it (fridge door?)

Overweight children need fewer calories but because growing bones and hormonal changes both demand high levels of nutrition, even overweight children may need more calories than an adult and if they wish to lose weight, should be encouraged to take more exercise and eat more healthily, but not less, for several months.

For older people

People over 60 have different nutritional requirements and there is plenty of research being done to look at the relationships between aging, health and food. People also are living longer and want to maintain an active, healthy body so they can enjoy life to the full in their older years.

The Okinawa Pyramid was developed for older people. It comes from a project in Japan based on islanders who are known to live into their 100s, even 110! by a diet that is high in nutrition but low in calories.

Using the Okinawa food pyramid diagram, you would consume lower density calories (featherweight not heavyweight foods) as follows:

- 20% fewer calories than the Japanese average – that’s over 50% less calories than the average Westerner.

- three times more green and yellow vegetables than the standard food pyramid recommends, up to twelve portions a day!

- Around a serving a day of fish

- 2-3 servings a day of Soy products

- almost no meat, eggs or dairy products.

Tufts University in the USA suggest that older adults need more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 than their younger counterparts. Many people over 60 don't get enough of these micro nutrients and develop diseases and disorders as a result. Senile Dementia and Alzheimer' are also affected by nutrition.
Orange key guide The Tufts team suggests supplements are the answer, coupled with plenty of water or water-rich foods such as lettuce, cucumber, grapes vegetable juices and soups.

For Vegetarians

Here's a a new and "modified" food pyramid diagram, designed especially for vegetarians:

There are different kinds of vegetarians, so you may have to hunt around to find a food pyramid diagram for your own preferences. Try Food Guide Pyramid website

For Diabetics

There are many many diets that can be followed by people with diabetes (type I and II). Just reading the food labels of products will help you stay clear of high sugar foods. Or you can follow more specifically the "GI diet", which calculates the glycemic index of foods and helps you understand which ones gives a quick rush of glucose or sugar into the blood and which ones gives a slower release. Slow release is much better for controlling diabetes by diet or by medication.

If you go 'hypo' glycemic because you've overdone the dose of medication or insulin, then you'll need something like a fruit juice or mars bar to shoot your blood sugar up again and get things back to normal.

I haven't come across a specific food pyramid diagram for diabetics - and if I did, it probably could be misleading as there are many different types of diabetes and degrees of control.

So instead, I'll point you to a couple of resources that I tend to refer to when I'm advising clients who have diabetes - mostly type II late onset diabetes (including my mum!) Diabetes Guide

Setting your calorie intake levels - see Best Way to Lose Weight by Reducing Calories - to the right amount can help you lose weight and still maintain the best possible nutrition.

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