The Healthy Diet Pyramid approach to eating is a simple way of ensuring that we take in food from different food groups in appropriate amounts without overeating any particular type of food. Having a variety of food is important as any type of food – even if it is relatively “healthy” food – can be harmful to our health if we consume too much of it.
The Healthy Diet Pyramid is made up of four food groups and a Pyramid tip. The four food groups are:
rice and alternative forms of carbohydrate – for instance, noodles, bread, pasta, thosai;
fruit – including fresh, dried, canned, or frozen fruit and fruit juices;
vegetables – leafy vegetables as well as non-leafy, cruciferous, or root vegetables (e.g. tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes);
meat and alternative forms of protein – for instance, poultry, fish, seafood, milk, nuts, and seeds.
Rice and other carbohydrates form the base of the Pyramid, followed by fruit and vegetables at the second level. Meat and other types of protein are placed on the third tier; and finally, at the top of the Pyramid lie fats, oils, sugar and salt. Nutritionists recommend that we eat more from the food groups at the bottom of the Pyramid, less from those placed higher up, and least from the seasonings at the tip.
The following table provides a rough guide to the amount which we should consume from each food group in the Healthy Diet Pyramid. These recommended servings, however, have to be adjusted based on a person’s individual needs.
No. of Servings per day
|Rice & its alternatives||5||6 to 7||5 to 7||5|
|Fruits & vegetables||2 + 2 (of each type)||2+2||2+2||2+2|
|Meat & its alternatives||2||3||3||2|
As for what constitutes one serving of the various food groups, some examples are listed below:
Example of one serving
|Food Group||Example of one serving|
|Rice & its alternatives||Chapatis – 2 small
Bread – 2 slices
Rice / Noodles – 1⁄2 rice bowl (100 g)
|Fruit||Apple / Orange – 1 small
Rambutan / Lychees – 6 seeds
Banana – 1 medium
|Vegetables||Cooked vegetables, whether leafy of non-leafy – 3⁄4 of a 250 ml mug (100 g)|
|Meat & its alternatives||Chicken / Meat / Fish – 1 palm-sized piece (90 g)
Beancurd – 2 small squares (170 g)
Milk – 2 glasses (500 ml)
Prawns – 5 medium (90 g)