Have you read the news about Belgium’s new “upside down” food pyramid? If you’re following a plant-based diet or making the commitment to eat a healthier diet, you’re going to love its’ recommendations.
Some people are saying Belgium’s food pyramid is too radical, but here at Tommy’s, we think it’s based on both common sense and modern dietary science.
Belgium’s New Food Pyramid Broken Down
The Belgian food pyramid is divided into four sections, with each grouping color-coded to show which foods should be encouraged and discouraged. The clear goal is to drive home four key points to having a healthy diet:
It all starts with water.
The suggestion to drink more water throughout the day is also prominently displayed at the top. Not only is staying hydrated good for overall health, drinking water more frequently can also help prevent overeating. Also important here: drink water. Other beverages like juice, milk, soda or coffee are not as healthful as good ol’ water.
Veggies at the Top
The dark “leafy green” group at the very top emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, as well as vegetable oils. Consuming more vegetables, fruits and whole grains is the cornerstone of any good diet.
Other Healthy Foods
The next grouping is a light green color and highlights fish, chicken, eggs, and dairy. Consuming lean proteins is a key step in removing unnecessary, unhealthy fats and cholesterol. These foods are an important part of a healthy diet, but only if consumed secondary to the plant-based foods and proteins featured at the top.
Foods to Moderate
The lowest level of the pyramid is yellow, indicating foods that should infrequently be consumed, such as butter and red meat. Is it okay to have these in moderation? Sure!
Off to the Side
There is also a bright red circle containing junk foods and highly processed foods that the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living suggests avoiding as much as possible such as pizza, fried foods, sugary desserts and beverages, and processed deli meats. When you sit down for a meal, these foods should be considered the exception, not the rule. Avoid, avoid, avoid!
Putting It All Together
Belgium’s Flemish Institute of Healthy Life released the new food pyramid earlier this fall in response to World Health Organization research finding that processed meats may cause cancer in humans. Despite the controversy the new food pyramid has caused, Belgian policy makers are sticking with their decision. Loes Neven, a representative for the Institute, said:
We want to make it clear that we don’t need these products. We don’t forbid them, but they should be rather an exception than [the] rule.
The Red Circle: First Fat, Then Sugar… Is Sodium the New “Big Bad”?
Belgium’s new food pyramid seems to make sodium consumption its centerpiece.
High sodium counts were one of the main reasons why certain foods were placed in the “red circle.” Processed foods like chips, salad dressings, and fast “drive through” foods are very high in sodium. Processed meats—such as deli slices, pepperoni, and pre-packaged “burgers” have an excess of sodium.
Other reasons included high amounts of sugars and fats. The Belgian government is in complete agreement with the new food guide, so much so that they also released a second pyramid designed to communicate recommended physical activity levels! (in Dutch)
Our Current System and the Power of Suggestion
In comparison, in the United States, the Department of Agriculture suggests that approximately 25% of your daily diet be proteins, but refrains from providing recommendations of what to eat.
MyPlate, the Department’s visual guide shows five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy), but doesn’t offer healthy suggestions like the Belgian food pyramid. MyPlate also indicates consuming dairy at every meal, while the Flemish Institute recommends drinking water.
While the Belgian food pyramid may have little impact on America’s current eating habits, it’s a significant success in defining what we need to eat to stay healthy and active:
More plants, more water, less dairy, less meat.
Committing to a plant-based diet is increasing every year from countries all over the globe, and we at Tommy’s Superfoods are hoping it stays that way!
Eat Some Forward-Thinking Veggies
If you come here often, you already know that Tommy’s Superfoods vegetable medleys are tasty, healthy and easy, low in sodium, and Non-GMO Project verified. Now we can add another to the list: Belgium-friendly!
Belgium: We like how you think!
Whether you’re serving them at dinner or packing a mixture of your favorites for a veggie lunch bowl, everyone in the family is sure to agree that our vegetable blends are far from ordinary. Pick up a few packages of Tommy’s Superfoods the next time you’re at the grocery store and enjoy the benefits of adding more vegetables into your daily diet!