A new food pyramid

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on January 31st, 2011
Filed under Health News, Nutrition | No Comments »

Today marks the beginning of week 4 in my holistic health and nutrition program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I knew the material would be eye opening and I knew the learning curve would be large. But I didn't expect to be this blown away in a mere month. :)

And I love it!

After a bit of an overwhelming first week where I tried to overhaul my life and our pantry at warp speed…I have settled into a spectacular place where I am learning so much cool stuff every day. I can't stop thinking about it all!

I don't want my time here with each of you to turn into a synopsis of lectures (that's no fun!) so don't worry, that isn't the direction I am going. But I do want to share some of the silver linings from this program. The speakers that I am hearing from, the depth of the material and the new concepts are too cool not to share! I promise to not preach or lecture to you.

I do want to encourage discussion, encourage open minds and introduce each of us to new ideas in our journey with health.

To begin this focus on discussion, today I want to talk about a food pyramid that I came across during a streak of researching and clicking last Friday. I honestly have no earthly idea how I landed on this page but I was excited to find it!

Food for Thought Pyramid

Last week I learned a great deal about our beloved USDA Food Pyramid. The one from 1991 looked like this


As of 2005, the pyramid looks like this

You can visit the My Pyramid site if you would like to investigate more of what the USDA says.

Now I have a strong opinion about what our government is telling us to eat but that conversation is a long one and will be saved for another day. :) Instead I would like to introduce you to an entirely new food pyramid that actually has very little to do with food at all.

And here's why:

Nourishing our body can look like many different things. According to the media, what you see on TV, what you read in books, magazines and articles- health is only about food + exercise. Eat this, not that. Exercise at least 4 days a week. Every plan and expert says something different but what we have been told over and over again is clear:

food and exercise are the only way to health

Before I continue, allow me to say that I agree with the idea that food and exercise play a significant role in our health. A critical one even. But that isn't the whole picture.

Enter the Food for Thought Pyramid, created by Laura McKibbin.

A small and not detailed picture, I know. Open this site to take a further look please:

Food For Thought Pyramid

Looks a bit different I would say. And certainly a tongue n cheek response to what the USDA says (I love the top recommendation: use nutritional advice sparingly, instead focus on internal cues).

Here is my thought on this pyramid:

Health is about food and it is about exercise. But.

There is always a but.

Health is about self care, it is about nourishing your body, your mind and your life.

And nourishing your body includes:

Your relationships (friendships, family, loved ones)

Your spirituality (that can look like anything- meditation, mindfulness, daily reading, or a religious practice)

Your emotional well being (stress relief, relaxation, time to care for your emotional space)

Your level of happiness (and how you enhance that with play, humor, time with those you love- hello dogs!

Your career (satisfaction, guidance, mentorship, passion, focus)

Each of these elements make you YOU. This nourishment can provide you with a level of health that no food and no amount of exercise can fill.

And yet, do we as a society focus on the above areas of life much? Sure we focus on our career. But in a healthy way?

Answer me this: do you take one minute every day for YOURSELF? Do you take one minute to just be. To sit, take some deep breaths and just be with yourself?

I don't.

What this pyramid did for me was open my eyes just a bit further to this idea of what health really is. It isn't just about the food friends. It isn't just about daily cardio and weekly strength training.

Health is holistic. Health touches every area of who you are.

So how can you take a more holistic view on health? A few simple thoughts for you:

1. Build in daily time for you. I'm talking 1-10 minutes. Start small but take that time. Remove your surroundings, quiet your mind and just be.

2. Make a list of self care priorities. What are ways you can start taking care of each part of you. I say this again and I'll say it a million times: start small. Make it simple, make it doable. Then build from there.

3. Write your own version of health. Take pen and paper and get your thoughts down. What do you want health to mean for YOU? Include food ideas, exercise but incorporate every facet of your life in their too! How do you want to better nourish your body in all of these ways?

Notice this friends…when you begin to care for all of these areas of your life, your body grows and heals in a very powerful way. When you are caring for you, food can nourish and energize your MORE, exercise can bring your MORE strength. The effect builds and builds and builds.

My question today for you: What do you think could be possible in your life if you took a more holistic approach to health? What could happen? Think about it…

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