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Part 3: Feeding Infants, Young Children and Adolescents  >  The Food Pyramid


Five years ago, the US Department of Agriculture issued a guide to daily food choices. It was graphically represented as a pyramid.

The US Department of Health and Human Services was in full agreement with this guide.

It was felt that many Americans were eating much more meat and fat than was good for their health. They were, through this ‘food pyramid’, advised to include more of fruits, vegetables and grains in their diet.

It may be noticed that an Indian diet basically leans more towards this food pyramid.

Chagati or rice gives our children a lot of grains. Most people, who can afford to, do buy fruits and vegetables. Meat is mostly served with grains. Beans and pulses provide a good substitute for those who do not eat meat. Milk and milk preparations, especially curds, are common ingredients in our daily diet.

However, it is also true that with the opening of a large number of fast food restaurants, some children are being weaned away from a healthy, balanced diet.

The pyramid also specifies a number of servings. The details about one serving of grains, fruit, vegetable, meat and milk products are given below the pyramid.


1 serving of grain could be:

  • 1/2 cup rice,
  • 1 slice of bread, or
  • 1 ounce of cereal

1 serving of fruit could be:

  • 1 whole fruit, or
  • 3/4 cup of fruit juice

1 serving-of vegetable could be:

  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, or
  • 1/2 cup of other vegetables (chopped raw or cooked)

1 serving of meat could be:

  • 2 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
  • One egg, 1/2 cup of cooked dried peas or beans and l/3 cup of nuts are each equivalent of 1 ounce of meat 

1 serving of milk products could be:

  • 1 cup of low-fat milk or yoghurtor
  • 1 1/2 ouces of natural cheese.

The September 1996 issue of Consumer Reports On Health, published by the Consumers Union of USA, has rightly pointed out that the pyramid offers no specific guidance on which foods to eat within each group.

This pyramid, according to consumer reports, falls short in 2 areas: Fibre and fat. For instance, it makes no distinction between white rice and white bread (which contains little fibre), and whole grain foods like unpolished rice and whole wheat bread (and whole wheat flour chapati in the case of an Indian diet), which have a lot of fibre.

Similarly, the pyramid does not distinguish between highfat (butter, cream) and low-fat dairy products (low-fat milk or Indian chaas made from low-fat dahi).

It also does not separate typically lean foods like beans, fish, and skinless poultry breast from fatty items like hot dogs and hamburgers, and does not exclude fatty items like fried rice, creamed spinach and French fries.

In general, the food pyramid is a good guide for the whole family, but do not follow it blindly.

7 March, 2016

Part 3
Feeding Infants, Young Children and Adolescents
Feeding the Newborn
Feeding Young Children
Food for Adolescents
The Food Pyramid
Healthy Food Habits
Guide to Child Care
1 Pregnancy, Childbirth ...
2 The Growing Years
3 Feeding Infants, ...
4 Keeping Your Child Healthy
5 Keeping Your Child Happy
About Dr. R. K. Anand

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