May 14, 2008
A New Pyramid to Climb

As a nation eager to live better if not forever, Americans are hung up on the pyramid for guidance. First, there was the federal government's Food Guide Pyramid, remodeled three years ago as My Pyramid. Trouble was, those efforts were flawed and misguided for directing Americans to an honestly helpful diet, claim experts of Harvard University's School of Public Health.

As a consequence, they're introducing their version of the pyramid, called the Healthy Eating Pyramid. They've taken matters into their own hands, they say, because the government's versions were based on out-of-date science, didn't keep abreast of scientific discoveries, and were shaped at least in part by "people with business interests in their messages."

We likely will be hearing and reading a lot about the latest pyramid in the days and weeks ahead, but its message boils down to five key points:

- Regular exercise is the foundation, thus the running shoes and barbells along the bottom of the pyramid.

- Forget about tracking portion sizes, servings, grams and the like; the new pyramid is a simpler guide to what people should be eating, without fretting over the details.

- And what we should be eating is plants - vegetables, whole grains, fruits and healthy fats, like olive oil.

- Cut way back on the "American staples," such as red meat, salty snacks, sugary drinks, refined grains and potatoes; if you eat meat, pick poultry and fish.

- Take a multivitamin, and have a drink, but forget alcohol if you wonder whether it could be more potentially harmful than beneficial. "Those who don’t drink shouldn’t feel that they need to start," caution the Harvard authorities.

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