Day 125: The Plate Model vs the Food Pyramid

Being back in Sweden is wonderful for a variety of reasons.  One of those reasons is the food in Sweden is of a higher standard.  Even when you eat at a place that is “fast food”, you get higher quality food than you would at a counterpart in the USA or, especially Hong Kong.

Along with the higher quality food is a different idea about nutrition.  In the USA, I grew up with the Food Pyramid.  This was and still is the official nutritional model for eating healthy.  So basically at the bottom is the carbs, which should be the majority of the meal or the day’s food intake.  Then you work your way up to the top.

 

typical food pyramid (image from wikipedia)
 
In contrast to this is the Swedish way of looking at meals, which is the Plate Model.  Basically the plate model is simple.  Your plate when you eat should be broken into equal thirds.  This means you have your carbs, protein, and vegetables equally distributed.  

 

the plate model (image from http://www.viforaldrar.se/faktabanken/mat/trott-pa-burkar)
 
Which one is better?  Well, I can say that in recent years with carbs being the enemy, the plate model nutritional model is less carb-centric.  The plate model is based on what you should do every meal, compared to the overall “daily intake” of the Food Pyramid.

I should point out that the American Food Pyramid is heavily based in political interests, and there are great ties into different industries within it.   Obviously farming is a huge part of the economy, so you have grains on the bottom, and fruits and vegetables next up.  I know as a fact that the way the food pyramid is constructed has little to do with actual nutrition – a former professor I worked with has been in the meetings where the food pyramid was discussed, and told me the way it went.

In contrast is the Plate Model, which is very Swedish in every way.  Equality to all, just like a good socialist society, extended even to the plate.  The Swedes would probably say “why should the grains be more important than the vegetables or protein?  Aren’t they all deserving of being equally represented?”  I would argue that the plate model is less tied to industry and more to actual healthy eating, but I do not have a way to confirm this as fact.

So, I must admit I do prefer admit the Plate Model.  I like the idea of balancing things out in such a way that nothing is the majority of what you eat.  After all, they say you should keep everything in moderation, and maybe the Plate Model helps this happen.

plate model in real life (I should have had more salad on the plate, but you get the point)
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