Not long after reading the Da Vinci Code a few years ago, it occurred to me that while the US Government Food Pyramid was well-intentioned, nobody I knew was able to make it work as a useful daily tool to make good eating decisions. The Pyramid has since been updated but from what I can tell, it’s at least as confusing as the old one for most people.
For me, whenever I see a pyramid, my attention is drawn to the top, like the peak of a mountain. With the Food Guide Pyramid, that’s all the stuff you’re supposed to keep to a minimum.
If you’ve read the Dan Brown book mentioned above, you know that the chalice is the symbol central to the story. So it suddenly dawned on me that flipping the pyramid on it’s end could make it a much clearer and more useful tool for making good, nutrient-dense food choices. And while substrates (carbs, protein and fats) have garnered a lot of attention in recent years, I’ve also found that there is confusion about what exactly a carb “is”. Since the low-carb craze re-ignited, it seems to me most people use the term “carb” and “grain” virtually interchangeably. But take a look at the pictures below.
Did you know that both candy canes and broccoli are mostly carbohydrates?
It’s much more practical to look at food choices in terms of food groups and the four elements of nutrient-density I defined a few entries back (protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber).
So the chalice is now the central graphic I give my clients to guide their eating. Here are the basic principles of the chalice: