Food Pyramid is a visual tool that is used as a guide in designing a healthy diet. It is developed as a guide to provide a framework for the types and amounts of food that can be eaten in combination to provide a healthy diet1.
Figure of Food Pyramid: Taken and adapted from National Institute of Nutrition ICMR. Dietary Guidelines for Indians - A Manual.; 2011. http://ninindia.org/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf
The Indian adaptation of the Food Pyramid is divided into four levels of foods according to recommended consumption37:
- Cereals ,legumes/beans, dairy products at the base should be eaten in sufficient quantity;
- Vegetables and fruits on the second level should be eaten liberally;
- Animal source foods and oils on the third level are to be eaten moderately; and
- At the apex, highly processed foods that are high in sugar and fat are to be eaten sparingly.
One peculiarity of the Indian adaptation of the Food Pyramid is the recommendation to do regular physical activity1. The Pyramid provides information on the food types and amounts necessary to meet daily dietary requirements. Each food group is represented by a band or level. Narrow bands at the apex indicate lower quantities, while wider bands at the base mean that more from that food group need to be consumed.
Most importantly, include plenty of water each day as it’s the most important nutrient of all, accounting for 70% of our body weight and also helping in the upkeep of our health1.
It is very important that an individual ensures getting appropriate foods and incorporates the principle of good nutrition such as variety, a balanced intake of nutrients and moderation. The best way to meet the daily requirements is to eat a varied diet that combines cereals, fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, legumes and dairy products1-3.
Eating a variety of foods daily as guided by the Food Pyramid should provide all the nutrients needed by the body.