It does a much better job of helping individuals know exactly what
and how much they should eat, which only makes sense, as a 28-year-old
active male will require more calories than a 50-year-old sedentary
While some have criticized the method of delivery (via the Internet)
and some lingering difficulty with quantities (how does one convert
a slice of bread into ounces, the chosen measurement for grains?), overall,
the response to the new pyramid has been positive. The Web site got
more than a thousand hits per second on its first day of operation,
tallying 60 million hits for the day.
Perhaps most helpful, quantity recommendations have switched from the
erroneous "servings" to actual measurements (e.g. cups, ounces
etc.), making it easier -- for the most part -- for people to know whether
they are eating proper amounts.
With the food categories funneling upward, rather than stacked upon
one another, the new pyramid also makes a visual point of including
exercise as part of an overall healthy eating plan. In fact, the government
beefed up its activity recommendation to 60 to 90 minutes a day of moderate
to vigorous exercise for individuals who wish to maintain or lose weight.
Thirty minutes of exercise per day is now considered a minimum recommendation
for everyone. Body weight is definitely an emphasis of the new guidelines.
With 65 percent of Americans ages 20 to 74 overweight (and nearly half
of those people classified as obese), the healthcare fallout will be
severe unless individuals learn how to improve their diet and exercise
In addition to personalized food and quantity recommendations, the Web
site offers these general tips:
At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
The ingredients list should read "whole wheat" or "whole
grain." (Enriched whole wheat flour does not equal whole grain.)
If sugar or corn syrup rank high on the ingredients list, try another
Limit your consumption of saturated and trans
fats, refined or added sugars, salt and alcohol.
Eat three cups of low or nonfat dairy a day from
sources such as milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese.
Look for nutrient-dense foods or foods that offer
the greatest nutritional punch for the least amount of calories.
Sodium recommendations are only 2,300 milligrams
a day, approximately one teaspoon, so look for products that are labeled
"no salt added."
Cardiovascular exercise, stretching and strength training
are all essential components of a well-rounded workout program. Try the
following overhead press to strengthen your deltoid muscles, which shape
the shoulders and move the arms.
Begin by holding a pair of light dumbbells in your hands. Stand with your
feet shoulder-width apart, and your knees and toes pointing forward. Bend
your knees slightly, lift your torso tall, and tighten your abdominal
muscles. Bring the weights to your shoulders, with your palms forward.
Exhale as you slowly press the weights directly upward, keeping your shoulders
down as your arms move upward. Pause briefly before slowly lowering the
weights back to your shoulders. Try to keep your neck relaxed as you raise
your arms. Repeat 10 to 12 times before resting. Perform up to three sets
for maximum benefits.