The most accurate balanced diet charts available are the pyramid food charts available from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA.) Although they came out in 1992, plenty of older food charts are floating around. The older charts, usually based on four square food groups, are inaccurate and not recommended for schools, doctor’s offices or any place illiterate children or adults may frequent.
If writing to the USDA for balanced diet charts, please specify whether you want charts for adults of children. Although the food pyramid charts are about the same, there are some minor differences. If there aren’t any of the children’s charts available, just get the adult food pyramid charts. It’s better than getting nothing. People tend to retain new information longer if there are visuals to go with the information.
What’s Wrong with the Old Charts?
The old balanced diet charts usually showed four squares or rectangles of the same size on one poster or pie chart. Food groups were meat; dairy and eggs; fruits and vegetables and cereals or grains. Charts that came out near 1992 did have detailed text about how many portions of each group you were to eat, but this tended to be small print.
But just having each group to be the same size gave the impression that you had to eat the same amount from each group per day. People were eating the same amount of meat and dairy products per day as they were fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists and doctors know that people need to eat far more fruits and vegetables than they should meat or dairy in order to have a healthy, balanced diet.
The Food Pyramid
In the food pyramid balanced diet chart, the type of food you should eat the most servings of per day is on the bottom. This group is the breads, grains and cereals. Above that is a slightly narrower band on the pyramid for fruits and vegetables. Above that are progressively smaller layers to emphasize that only a little bit of those groups need to be eaten per day.
Many free UDA food pyramid materials are based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, which is a usual diet for moderately active adults. This is not the diet for pregnant women, women breast feeding babies or professional athletes. They need to eat more than 2,000 calories per day. Men tend to need more calories per day than women.
Even if you follow balanced diet charts to the letter, there are still some things to keep in mind in order to keep a healthy body weight. The first is that you still need to regularly exercise about a half hour per session at least three times a week. There is no way to get around that. You also need to limit alcoholic beverages because they are full of calories and sugars but not nutrients.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the body’s metabolism slows down considerably once a person passes the age of 40. They need to eat about 200 calories less per day than they did in their 20s.