The food pyramid. We all grew up with it. We were taught about it in school. Most of our parents probably based the food they fed us as kids on it. It endeavours to tell us what foods and in what proportions we should be eating them everyday. It looks a little something like this:
(image from http://www.safefood.eu)
It tells us we should be eating 6 +servings of carbohydrates (you’ll notice this includes white bread, chips and Weetabix), 5 + of fruit and veg, 3 servings of dairy, 2 of meat and 1 maximum of high sugar /fatty ‘treats’. Sure have 6 plates of chips there, but only 5 pieces of fruit and veg mind! Hmmm.
The Food Pyramid first made an appearance in the U.S in 1992. Previous to this, there had been “Dietary Guidelines” released circa 1980 by the USDA (which is the U.S Department of AGRICULTURE not the Department of Health) which advised Americans to “Avoid too much fat and saturated fat” and “Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber (sic)” (1) When these guidelines were released they caused much concern among the scientific community as the benefits of eating a high starch, low protein, low fat diet were completely unproven. These guidelines had not been drawn up by nutrition experts, they had been derived from a political document called “Dietary Goals for the United States” which was designed to promote certain types of agriculture. Upon the release of the Guidelines the American Medical Association stated “There is a potential for harmful effects for a radical long term dietary change as would occur through adoption of the proposed national goals.” (2)
These guidelines are still in place in the U.S and are updated by the USDA (again, let me emphasise, the Department of AGRICULTURE) every 5 years. They were supplemented in 1992 by The Food Pyramid which aimed to tell people what exact amounts of each type of food to eat each day. It was widely promoted, taught in schools and adopted as sound nutritional advice all over the world. The USDA claimed that one of their aims in introducing the pyramid was to combat the growing numbers of obesity and heart disease. Interestingly, since the food pyramid was introduced rates of both obesity and cardiovascular disease have dramatically increased.
Millions of U.S Hospital Discharges for Cardiovascualar Disease (2)
Percentage of Americans Overweight (2)
In 2005, the Department of Nutrition at the the Harvard School of Public Health took matters into their own hands and published their own guidelines for healthy eating. The Chair of the Department stated
“The low-fat, high carbohydrate diet recommended by the USDA Food Guide Pyramid may be among the worst eating strategies for someone who is overweight. People on low-fat diets generally lose about two to four pounds after several weeks, but then gain that weight back even when continuing with the diet.” (2)
We’re in an interesting time food-wise now. Dietary guidelines that we have held as truths for many years are now being turned on their heads. Research is now showing, among many other things, that
1. Saturated fat has nothing to do with heart disease, (3),
2. Whole wheat has been shown to actually increase various risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (4)
3. Sodium has no effect on cardiovascular disease or the risk of death. (5)
4. Eggs are pretty much the healthiest thing you can eat. (6)
So are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Hurrah!! Here’s a seriously nice Fritatta recipe that does in face use, all of the eggs. Serves 2!
The amount of ingredients needed for this really depends on the size of your pan. Mine is 10″. Adjust accordingly!
1-2 sweet potatoes
1 small red onion
about 1/3 block of feta cheese
salt ‘n’ peppa
Peel your sweet potato (es) and cube em up!
Put them on to boil for about 7-10 mins. Keep an eye on them – they get very soft, very quick!
When they’re done, leave them on a plate for a few mins to cool.
Slice up your courgette and onion, throw them in the pan with a little bit of seasoning and olive oil and stir fry them for about 10 mins or so.
When they’re done to your liking, take them off the heat. Get your sweet potato and layer it on top. Try to get it spread out pretty evenly. Season it a wee bit.
Next the feta goes on there.
Whisk 5 eggs together in a bowl and then add it to the pan making sure it’s distributed evenly. Throw some shredded basil in there.
Put it back on the heat until the base is cooked. This is a dangerous business, the base can burn while the top is still raw. About 3-5 mins should be all it takes.
Next, to cook the top, stick it under a hot grill. Give it about another 5-10 mins depending on the hotness of your grill.
Slice her into quarters and serve with some salad or enjoy it on its own!