The infamous Food Pyramid. We’ve all seen it diagrammed in the cafeteria and been nagged to eat our veggies, but how can we translate it into our daily eating habits? For more information about the Food Pyramid and tips on how to implement its recommendations into our meals, niNe. caught up with registered nurse Colleen S. Ley.
niNe. Could you tell us a little bit more about the Food Pyramid?
Colleen: Lately, it’s gone through some changes! The old pyramid was a way to remind us of what we should eat to stay healthy. But one size doesn’t fill all, so a new pyramid has been developed and was introduced in 2005. The new pyramid is called MyPyramid because it is about healthy lifestyle choices and how these choices depend upon our individual needs. MyPyramid also stresses the importance of physical activity. Our health and how much we should eat are related to how active we are and the new pyramid incorporates this important information.
niNe. Great! Can you give us an example of a typical “day in the life” advised by the MyPyramid?
Colleen: Sure. Here’s a recommendation for a 15 year old female who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 120 pounds and exercises 30-60 minutes a day.
niNe. How would you suggest we start implementing healthy eating into our daily diet?
Colleen: Don’t make a drastic switch all at once. Focus on one section of the pyramid every day for a week, then add the next section the following week. In seven weeks you’ll be a stronger, healthier and happier person. Start by adding physical activity to your daily life, then on week two make adjustments to the amount of grains you consume, during the third week evaluate your dairy consumption and so on. If you struggle with one particular week, extend it to two weeks. This isn’t a race; alter your diet and lifestyle according to your own personal habits. Feel free to keep a journal. Write down what you’re consuming, so you can see the changes you’re making.
niNe. Is there any inspirational thoughts you can share to help build ourselves up when we’re feeling defeated?
Colleen: Think positively about the changes you’re making in your life. A positive outlook can help you overcome obstacles and ultimately achieve your goal.
niNe. Can you give advice on how to set helpful goals?
Colleen: Set SMART goals.
- Specific – know what you have to do on a daily basis to reach your goal
- Measurable – set a goal that’s measurable such as increasing your muscle strength by 5% or decreasing your sugar intake by one soda
- Achievable – it’s your goal, so you have to be able to achieve it
- Realistic – your goal should make you push yourself, but it should be attainable
- Time Frame – have a specific start and end date, otherwise you’ll never actually tackle change
niNe. We’re often under the influence of family, friends or a busy schedule. How can we gain support of others when trying to implement these patterns into our lives?
Colleen: Become a role model. Encourage others to join you in your effort to build a healthy lifestyle. People are more likely to start a program when they hear of someone else’s achievements. So, be the motivation they need to get started by telling them all about your successes.
niNe. Thanks! Any other suggestions for following the Food Pyramid each day?
Colleen: Here are some helpful hints to put things into practice: