Food pyramids and plates


zombiefoodpyramidHopefully not this.

There’s a bunch of different tools that health professionals use when they talk to the public, the most famous of these is the food pyramid, the most recent though are the plates. In The DODO Diet we talk about the pyramid of hierarchy, this is not the familiar food pyramid which some may know, but rather a way of ordering the importance of the different factors like ‘calories’, ‘macronutrient ratios’ etc., so here we’ll look at the plates, the pyramids and so on and what they mean for you.

The old Food Pyramid

This is a classic tool, and was around for ages. Unfortunately it is one of those things that didn’t as much have it’s grounding in nutrition and health science as in economics and lobbying by agricultural business. Still it’s a pretty good tool and it was in use from 1992 until quite recently.


The New Food Pyramid aka MyPyramid aka the biggest joke in nutrition

If the old tool was OK because it clearly set out what you needed to do, this is the opposite. It is a mess. How on earth do you use this? Who knows. It’s (only?) strength lies in the fact that they have included activity in there, clearly an important factor and one that also has an impact upon how much you should eat. It stuck around 6 years and that was six years too long



Time to Plate-Up

One of the most critical points in a commercial kitchen is when you have to put the food on the plate. Any delay in this ‘plating-up’ process and dishes that should go out together don’t and what does go out is cold. Similarly a vital stage in the practical aspect of people feeding themselves is when they actually put the food on the plate. It was decided that the pyramids were a little too abstract and thought they might describe the bigger, day long picture, they didn’t clearly show people what their plate should look like.


Like the pyramids above this was put together by the US Dept. or Agriculture and it’s been in use for a few years now. A highly practical guide it shows you how to divide you plate up, though of course the guidance doesn’t end there and the USDA have done a pretty decent job of putting the information together in a form that’s easy to use, though whether or not it’s the right recommendations is another story, you can see all this at

USDA MyPlate_green

The Eat Well plate

This is the UK version, coming from the Dept. of Health, as you can see it’s not quite as clear as the US version, and it is a bit of a fudge, because in reality it is the food pyramid on a plate, so of course different meals can contain different selections and proportions they don’t all have to be the same structure.  Anyway, if you’re interested there’s a lot more info here:

eatwell plate

“More” you say?

There’s a real western bias to all this though of course. Say I live in Beijing or Tokyo, would I give a monkey’s what the USDA or DoH thing?


I know these nutritional tools fascinate you like they do me and you want MORE!. Luckily there are more more of course, there’s many different cultures, needs and preferences, as such there’s quite a few of these pyramids, for more have a look at Pyramids of the World, from the sublime to the ridiculous, with pyramids including paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, Inuit (food igloo), the Japanese diet and so on and so forth.

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