Thursday, January 21, 2010

Food Pyramid and Other Impossilbe Mountains

Do you remember the food pyramid as a child? It involved eat this many servings of each food group. It made SENSE. Okay, so it was kind of tricky - is a serving of meat a half a cow? A slab of fish? A multitude of chicken body parts?

And then some genius came up with the "same size as" theory. You know, a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. I think a serving of veggies or fruit was about the size of your fist. Bread servings were about the size of a CD - but there was some rule about thickness that always got lost in my mind. But it was a guideline that I could visualize.

Flash forward to this week - I've openly admitted that food journals stink! (A. They are a pain in the butt. B. Calorie counts are always a guestimation. C. I find that food journals ENCOURAGE me to eat purchased / boxed foods - b/c they come with a label, unlike my homemade meals.) I'm not a total quitter so I'm trying to adapt the food tracking to some kind of system that doesn't make me crazy - so I thought of the food pyramid. Isn't that the idea? If you eat from those guidelines you would be eating a healthy and well rounded diet?

So I began my visit to my pyramid. Now, I have not been living in a cave. I am aware that they revised the pyramid. What I had not noticed so much was how completly UNuseful it had become. Now, before the mypyramid folks go crazy with hate mail - there are some wonderful tools on the site that help to guide you in the right direction of number of servings you need based on age and weight. There is a lot of good information about food groups, variety, and healthy guidelines.

The problem lies here - after my visit to the pyramid of nutrition - I feel like I know LESS than I did before I went there. I was under the impression that you need 5+ servings of fruit / veggies per day. Nope. Apparently not. Mine suggested 2.5 CUPS of veggies and 1.5 CUPS of fruit. Now, I ask you - how many cups is a banana? What is the size comparison to 2 cups of lettuce? And not all produce is measured equally. Dried fruit 1/2 cup = 1 cup - say what? What happened to servings? Where did they go? Is 1 cup 1 serving? (unless you are dried?)

And there were like 5 meat ounces per day. I dare you to find the 5 oz. meat serving on a menu AND by the way - that would be IT for the whole day! What happened to the deck of cards? Are they an ounce? Two ounces? And where do you count wheat germ- is that a grain? And how much is considered an ounce? Because - for the record - if I have to choose between wheat germ in my yogurt or a toasted English muffin - well, let's just say the wheat germ is going to lose.

And, please don't get me started on the veggies. While I need 2.5 cups per day, apparently it takes a statistical genius to make the spreadsheet of how those should be divided - there's a suggested number of servings per week for dark greens, orange, starchy, and then the all mysterious "other". What the hell is an "other" vegetable?

And all of this is without getting into the COMPLEX realities of real life eating. Like corn bread - this recipe has one can corn and one can creamed corn in it. So is that a grain? Is it a veggie? Is it a grain and a veggie? How many ounces is it? How many cups of corn? Let's hope that weight loss is a side effect of insanity - because the doctor ordered a little crazy.

My plan for the next week is to make some kind of modified checklist for daily use where I'll track that I've eaten all of these suggested foods first. I figure that if I cover all my food servings before moving onto the "fun stuff" maybe I'll be too full to over do it. Oh yes, the "fun stuff". That was an eye opening moment. It suggested that I did have some "extra" calories each day - want to know how many? 120(ish)! Suddenly it's clear - that's not even a candy bar. Much less a mini candy bar in the afternoon, some ice cream in the evening, and a little snack while waiting for dinner - clearly I've been doing some creative budgeting with my calorie bank account - or credit card as it may be.

As for the rest of the goals.
  • Consume a limit of 1 soda per week. So far, so good - but I just found out that Wal-Mart is going to stop carrying my life-saving flavored water product. Please Mr. Universe, stop dumping on me. Crisis to follow.
  • Do Push-Up's 3xs a week. Done.
  • Walk 2xs a week. Done.
  • Reduce calories and keep food journal. Adapting to be more use-able, less PITA-ish. (Pain In The Ars)
  • Purchase no more than 5 boxes per week. I fully plan to, but have not yet broken this rule. I only made a short trip to the store - no boxes involved. But when I find those little tasty water packets - I'm buying the full inventory. No questions asked. I'll repent later.
Little thing about me: I am a Prince fan. People that have known me -for years - are seldom aware of my great love for the purple man. But seriously, how many times can Purple Rain, Artist formerly known as..., and Darling Nicky come up in general conversation?


Karen said...

This whole food pyramid thing is giving me a headache. What's wrong with just eating an apple? Now I have to worry about how many cups that equals?

Janet said...

Prince comes up in normal conversation about as often as Olivia does. However, in the 80's both of them came up more often. Hee hee.

I feel your pain with the pyramid. Corn baffles me too, as to where it should go. And peas. Are they are vegetable? Or a legume, which is a protein? What about green beans? When is a bean a vegetable, and when is it a protein?

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about using an online service to track your calories? Spark People is great (and free) and it's awesome. You can input your own recipes and then tell the system how many servings it has. When you're tracking for the day, you can add one serving of your recipes to your daily tracking and away you go.

I love it!

Amy said... is a great calorie tracking site as well. I love it! and it's free.

Great job on the soda! That's one thing I need to change.

South Beach Steve said...

Great week! I would stock up on the water too while you can.

Helen said...

Oy! Forget that food pyramid making you crazy. I vote for a free online tracker like Sparkpeople too. Just aim to have at least 3-5 half cup servings of veggies (pretty much anything except potatoes, corn, peas); 2 fruits; and give the rest of your calories to good fats, protein and carbs. If you use the calorie tracker you be "on track" in no time (sorry for the pun).

Shelli Belly said...

What I wouldn't do for a Diet coke or pepsi. I've given up soda for the year. I've turned to Green Tea.

Great Job chasing after those P10 goals.