The Pyramid of Healthy Eating - 5 Golden Rules


Food Pyramid or food pyramid - a schematic representation of the principles of healthy nutrition, developed by nutritionists. The products that form the base of the pyramid should be eaten as often as possible, while foods on the top of the pyramid should be avoided or consumed in limited quantities.

The first food pyramid was published by the US Department of Agriculture in 1992, then it was reworked several times to incorporate new knowledge of nutritionists. Russia has not yet developed its own food pyramid, but experts from the Research Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences approve of the American project MyPyramid, taking into account national peculiarities [1].


At the base of the pyramid, developed by the Harvard School of Public Health under the leadership of the American nutritionist Walter Villett, are physical activity and adequate fluid intake, preferably in the form of mineral water.

The base of the food pyramid itself contains three groups of products: vegetables and fruits, whole-grain products — sources of the so-called “long carbohydrates” (brown rice, wholemeal bread, whole-grain flour pasta, cereals), and vegetable fats containing polyunsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, sunflower, rapeseed and others). Products from these groups should be used with every meal as much as possible. The share of vegetables and fruits is distributed as follows: 2 servings of fruit (about 300 g per day) and 3 servings of vegetables (400–450 g).

At the second step of the pyramid are protein-containing vegetable products - nuts, legumes, seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkins, etc.) - and of animal origin - fish and seafood, poultry meat (chicken, turkey), eggs. These products can be consumed from 0 to 2 times a day.

Milk and dairy products (yoghurts, cheese, etc.) are located just above, and their consumption should be limited to one or two servings per day. People with lactose intolerance should replace dairy products with preparations containing calcium and vitamin D3.

At the very top of the pyramid are products, the use of which should be reduced. These include animal fats contained in red meats (pork, beef) and butter, as well as products with a high content of so-called “fast carbohydrates”: white flour products (bread and bakery products, pasta), refined rice, carbonated drinks and other sweets. Recently, the last group includes potatoes due to the high content of starch in it, in the initial version of the pyramid, the potatoes were at the lowest level along with whole-grain products.

Along the side of the pyramid are alcohol, which can be consumed in reasonable quantities up to several times a week, and vitamin-mineral complexes, since modern food does not cover the needs of most people for vitamins and biologically significant elements.

In January 2007, the status of a state program in the United States received the MyPyramid pyramid developed in 2005 by the Ministry of Agriculture. The main principles of the new pyramid are physical activity, moderation, diversity, proportionality and individuality [1].

Unlike the former pyramids, the new one divides products into groups in a different way. So, MyPyramid now consists not of horizontal layers, but of segments, each of which represents a particular group of products (in order of arrangement in the pyramid, starting from the left): cereals, vegetables, fruits, fats, dairy products, meat and legumes. The recommended proportions can be judged by the width of the segments - the wider the segment, the more products from this group should be consumed. The narrowest segment belongs to the fat group.

Now, a person can choose products from groups and make his own diet on the basis of his preferred products, focusing only on approximate proportions. Thus, this pyramid focuses on an individual approach to the selection of food [2]. On one side of the pyramid is a little man climbing steps, which symbolizes the need for exercise.

In addition to the widespread pyramids, aimed primarily at the inhabitants of America and Europe, there are also less popular pyramids that take into account the national food and cultural traditions of the region, as well as pyramids for certain segments of the population, for example, the pyramid of food for children, the pyramid for vegetarians and etc.

Some types of food pyramids:

  • The food pyramid for vegetarians, depending on the type of vegetarianism, does not contain meat and / or dairy products, fish, eggs. Protein products of animal origin are replaced by products of plant origin (tofu, legumes, nuts), and recommendations are given for consuming vitamin-mineral complexes developed specifically for vegetarians (increased need for iron, calcium, vitamins B12 and D)
  • The Asian Food Pyramid contains a large amount of vegetables, as well as rice, soy products and green tea typical of the region. Some Asian countries are characterized by dairy-free pyramids due to a large percentage of people with lactose intolerance (see also asian cuisine)
  • The Mediterranean Food Pyramid forms the basis for cereal products, vegetables and fruits, as well as olive and other vegetable oils, followed by fish and seafood, and meat consumption should be reduced to several times a month (see also mediterranean diet)

Foundation - grains, vegetables and fruits

The foundation of the pyramid of proper nutrition are foods that are recommended to be consumed the most. These are three groups of products: cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. In other words, foods that are rich in fiber, contain many complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals.

In the middle of the pyramid are milk and dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and vegetable fats. They are recommended to use every day, but less often, in moderate quantities. They should be about one tenth of the daily human diet, 2-3 servings per day.

Residents of our country eat too little vegetables and fruits, so they do not get enough biologically active substances. The daily rate of vegetables and fruits - about 400-500 grams.

Top of the pyramid

At the top of the pyramid are those products that are best abandoned or very rarely used: sugar, sweets and other sweets, butter, salt, sweet drinks, fats. They are recommended to be used rarely, certainly not every day. By the way, we are so loved fat falls exactly at the top of the pyramid. Since it consists of a large amount of fat, it should not be included in the daily diet.

Optimally is 3-4 times

The number of recommended foods in the food pyramid of food is indicated in portions. Why is such uncertainty left?

The fact is that the main goal of nutritionists is to motivate people to choose more diverse foods. Only in this way will they receive the various necessary nutrients. Portion size is not so important, it is important to follow the general recommendations of the pyramid.

For example, on one floor of the pyramid the product is consumed a couple of times a day, on the other - every day, but moderately, on the topmost floor - quite rarely. The size of the portions is not called specifically, since it depends on the person's age, physique, physical activity, and the most important thing for health is a variety of food and diet. If a person consumes suitable products once a day, nothing good will happen. Eat optimally 3-4 times a day, ideally even five times, approximately every four hours. It is also very important not to overeat.

Base - water

It is very important to drink enough fluids every day. A sufficient amount of water is one of the most important aspects for ensuring a good metabolism in our body, for assimilating nutrients, their removal. On average, each person should drink 8 glasses of water a day. You can count more specifically: for one centimeter of human growth every day you need 10 milliliters of water. That is, if a person is 1.6 meters tall, you need to drink 1.6 liters of water per day, if you are 2 meters tall - 2 liters. By the way, not sweet tea is also included in this amount.

Pay attention to the movement and chewing

Nutrition and physical activity are closely related, because nutrition is the production of nutrients and energy, and physical activity is an expense, there must be a balance between them. Eating high-calorie foods and moving a little, there is a risk of overweight, obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases. 20 years ago, the problem of low activity was not as relevant as it is now. People moved more, spent more time not at home.

So what is most important in human nutrition? The most important things are very simple; maybe this is why people very often miss them. This is a regular meal (not 1-2 times a day), a variety of foods. The process of eating is also very important - try not to read at the time, not to talk on the phone, not to watch TV, to chew well.

What is a food pyramid?

Before turning directly to the concept of the food pyramid, it should be said that all products can be divided into several groups according to their physical condition:

Gradation can also be made based on the frequency of use of certain products. For example, some of them we not only eat every day, but also cannot imagine life without them. We consume others on a case-by-case basis, and still others try to avoid them because of their worthlessness and harmfulness.

The food pyramid is a schematic representation of the principles of healthy eating. It was developed by nutritionists and, like an ordinary pyramid, has its base and top. Adhering to the rules of healthy eating, a person makes up a grocery basket for himself, moving from the base of the pyramid to its top.

The basis of the food pyramid is products that appear on our table every day, and the top is food products that should be avoided. The pyramid of healthy nutrition is indispensable for a person who is actively involved in sports. By building your diet according to its principles, you can achieve some significant results. And for this you need to know the "body" of the pyramid, i.e. those groups of products of which it consists, and its basic principle: daily physical activities, consumption of a sufficient amount of fluid and control of body weight.

Schematically, the food pyramid of proper nutrition is as follows:

Those. at the core, we see the main principle, and then the product groups, which can be divided into three types:

In this case, the share of the latter should account for the maximum percentage - 50-60%. Proteins in the diet should be no more than 25-30%, and fats - 10-15%. This proportion is optimal not only for muscle growth, but also for maintaining excellent health.

The steps of the food pyramid

The nutrition pyramid of a healthy person consists of four steps:

  • base,
  • second stage
  • third stage
  • the tip.

Let us examine each of them separately.

The base of the pyramid consists of three groups of products that should be found in the diet, if not daily, then as often as possible.

Third stage

Includes milk and its containing products, which may be kefir, cottage cheese, cheese, etc. These products are a source of many vitamins and trace elements, they also contain complete animal proteins. For lactose intolerance, regular milk can be replaced with soy or almond milk.

The tip has absorbed those products that need to be reduced to a minimum. These include:

  • animal fats,
  • simple carbohydrates
  • sweets,
  • white flour baking
  • alcohol products.

You should also not get carried away with potatoes - it contains too much starch.

Each food group can be divided into portions conditionally. Determine the daily caloric content of your diet, based on gender, age and degree of activity, to determine the number of servings and its size. So, when targeting groups, portions of products can be expressed as follows:

  • cereal - a slice of bread, 100 grams of porridge or pasta, 2-3 oatmeal cookies,
  • vegetables - half a cup of raw or boiled vegetables, a glass of vegetable juice,
  • fruit is one any medium fruit, a glass of fruit juice,
  • proteins - 100g of meat, 3 eggs, three quarters of a plate of beans,
  • dairy products - a glass of milk, a couple of slices of cheese, a third of a pack of cottage cheese,
  • top - 2 spoons of sugar, 30 grams of butter.

A variety of food pyramids

The food pyramid is based on five basic principles. The main one of which is the rule of diversity, which consists in the fact that there is anything you can, in the absence of allergies and contraindications. In addition, each product group corresponds to its color.

Includes all cereals: from bread to cereals. The group is rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, vegetable protein and low in fat. Every day you need to eat six servings of cereals. On the diagram, orange occupies the largest share, respectively, and in the diet the cereals should prevail. At the same time, preference should be given to bran bread and hercules.

Perhaps six servings sound like an unreal figure. But, if you consider that one serving of the same cereal is 100 grams, then a full plate for breakfast at 400 grams will take four servings, plus a slice of bread and a couple of cookies. Here are all six servings, just like before.

Presented by all kinds of vegetables. Three to five servings a day will be enough. In this case, the diet should be designed in such a way that it contains a portion of yellow, orange or green vegetables containing beta-carotene.

Fruits, berries as well as vegetables are sources of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid and other vitamins and trace elements. They are also rich in fiber and organic acids. A day will need 2-3 servings of fruit, and one of them should be citrus.

You can drink and juice, but fresh fruit is still preferable, since it preserves plant fiber and contains less sugar. Both fruits and vegetables should be varied. For example, if on Monday it is a banana, then on Tuesday an apple and so on.

The narrowest strip, represented by fats. And vegetable fats in priority. They even make up the base of the pyramid. The slight width of the strip is associated with saturated fat, which is often abused. So, you need to minimize butter and margarine, confectionery fat. Otherwise, you can earn problems with the cardiovascular system.

All dairy products are rich in vitamins, microelements and are a source of full-fledged animal proteins. They also contain lacto and bifidobacteria so necessary for our intestines. Every day you need to eat 2-3 servings of dairy products.


Represented by plant and animal proteins. You will also need 2-3 servings per day. And one of them should consist of plant proteins, for example, nuts or legumes, and the other two of animals - meat, fish, eggs. Meat is better to choose lean, and from sausages and sausages it is better to refuse at all. Fish is also better to choose low-fat varieties.

Other principles of the food pyramid and the basic conditions for its maximum efficiency

In addition to the principle of diversity, the following principles are characteristic of the food pyramid:

  1. The principle of proportionality. It is necessary to adhere to the correct ratio of food consumed in food. On the diagram, this rule is reflected by different width of segments. For example, the yellow segment of fat is the narrowest, which means that fats should occupy the very last place in the diet.
  2. The principle of individuality. Each person is individual. And this includes not only his gender, age, body structure, but also food preferences. Food pyramid will help to create an individual healthy diet.
  3. The principle of moderation. The correct diet is not only in the quality of food consumed, but also in their quantity. Moderate consumption means not to overeat or starve.
  4. The principle of physical activity. This principle creates a parallel with the other principles and is represented by the formula: diverse food + physical activity = beautiful and healthy body. We will talk about this principle in more detail later.

Do not take the food pyramid as a kind of tough guide to nutrition. From the variety of products, everyone can create for themselves a suitable and useful menu. And the maximum effect of the health pyramid will be given only under the following conditions:

  1. Maximum combination of products.
  2. Balancing food with physical activity.
  3. Minimize products from the top of the pyramid.
  4. Strict observance of the choice of products from a specific group - there should be no replacement
  5. Потребление только свежих продуктов, избегание готовой пищи.
  6. Грамотный подход к покупке продуктов с изучением их пищевой ценности и даты производства.

Виды пищевых пирамид

Помимо общеизвестной пирамиды существуют и другие ее разновидности:

  1. Вегетарианская. Другое название – пирамида растительного происхождения, т.е. all meat and dairy products, as well as eggs and fish are excluded from it. The basis of nutrition here is based on cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Dairy products, as well as meat in the pyramid, are replaced by soy products.
  2. Mediterranean. The basis of the food here is taken cereals and vegetables - fruit. The price also includes olive oil. Fish and seafood take the second place. Meat in this pyramid is recommended to use no more than once a week.
  3. Children's pyramid. Its principle is the same as that of an ordinary pyramid. The difference from the adult pyramid lies in the number and width of the segments. So, the first place is occupied by dairy products - this is the basis of the nutrition of children under three years of age. Next are fruits and vegetables that are not inferior to dairy products in the thickness of the segment. Next in line is the meat. Fish stands out in a separate segment. Certainly the basis of baby food should be cereals, which are best served in the form of cereals. As in the adult menu, the narrowest strip is represented by oils and fats. Oil, you can simply fill the porridge or salad. Eggs are also separated into a separate small segment. They also have sweets for children, which can be presented in the form of honey and dried fruits. Therefore, they can be consumed in small quantities daily.
  4. Asian The priority here are vegetables, rice, soy products and green tea.
  5. Pyramid for pregnant women. You can build your pyramid in the period of gestation, when the need for vitamins, protein and minerals increases. It is advisable to adjust your diet with the filing of the supervising doctor.

Principle of physical activity

One of the principles of the pyramid of healthy eating is the principle of physical activity. In the diagram, it is presented in the form of a little man climbing a ladder. And the essence of this principle is that you can achieve a beautiful body only by combining a healthy diet with physical activity. Nutritionists advise to give the latter at least one hour a day.

And in order to replenish calories lost during physical activity, you need to know how many calories you need to consume. So, for physically active people will need 2800 kcal, and, for example, for pensioners or people leading a sedentary lifestyle - only 1600 kcal. Based on this, and you need to build your diet, using all the principles of the pyramid.

If we take into account the athletes who train intensively, they should build their diet based on the following values ​​of daily calories:

  • 2500-2800 kcal - for women
  • 2800-4300 kcal - for men.

Thus, the daily rationality here will be somewhat different. So, for example, for women who lead an active lifestyle, cereal will need not six servings per day, at all ten.

The pyramid of healthy nutrition has undergone many changes: some adjustments were made, both qualitative and quantitative, and additions were made. Revised and principles. Relatively recently, the principle of physical activity came out even in the first place, pushing aside the principle of diversity.

General information

The food pyramid is visually a schematic depiction of dietary norms under the development of nutritionists. Products placed at the base of the structure constitute the main link of the full menu of a person. But the elements at its top are recommended to be used in limited quantities or excluded from the diet altogether. The food pyramid of nutrition has been recognized by nutritionists all over the world and is still considered one of the most effective recommendations for weight normalization.

Development of Harvard Scientists

This food pyramid is of particular interest. The very first published version had the appearance of a structure divided into tiers. It was based on daily exercise, fluid intake (from 2 liters for men and from 1.5 liters for women), as well as weight control. In each of the next tier was placed the appropriate product group.

Structural image

The food pyramid, the pictures of which are presented below, has the following visual distribution of sectors:

  • 1st stage - the base. This sector included the main products of a healthy diet for every day. Among them: wholegrain products, bran, cereals, wholemeal bread, brown rice. Also here various vegetable oils were attributed: olive, rapeseed, sunflower, corn, soybean, peanut and others.
  • 2nd stage - berries and fruits. Their recommended daily intake was 2-3 servings. Here were all kinds of vegetables. They were recommended to consume in unlimited quantities.
  • Stage 3 - protein-containing plant products (in particular, legumes, nuts) were assigned here. Their consumption rate is from 1 to 3 servings per day.
  • The 4th stage - animal products: poultry fillet without skin, fish, eggs. Norm - up to 2 servings per day.
  • 5th step - dairy products. They were recommended in 1 or 2 servings daily.
  • The 6th step is the top of the pyramid. Here were placed products with extremely rare frequency of use. These include: red meats, sausages, margarine, butter. At the same stage were potatoes, white flour bread, refined rice, sweets, and carbonated drinks.

Additionally, the scheme focused on the need for low alcohol consumption, while preference should be given to red wine. Also prescribed by a doctor allowed to take vitamin and mineral complexes. The basic principle of the Harvard food pyramid is to communicate the need for frequent consumption of the food group located at its base. The higher the level to which the elements belong, the less benefit they present to the human body. The pyramid of healthy nutrition, developed by Harvard experts, has become widespread in the world. Moreover, over a long period of time, it has been used as a fundamental system for losing weight.

The MyPyramid Food Pyramid. Advanced development of American nutritionists

The Harvard Pyramid of Healthy Eating has often undergone various changes. The final version of MyPyramid, published in 2007, was developed by the US Department of Agriculture and subsequently received the status of a state program. The American Food Pyramid is based on recent research in the field of nutrition. Unlike its predecessors, its principle of separating the elements of the diet is not based on belittling the role of simple carbohydrates and animal fats, but takes them to the same rank as vegetable fats and complex carbohydrates. This food pyramid is based on 5 basic principles:

  • Diversity.
  • Proportionality.
  • Moderation.
  • Individuality.
  • Physical activity.

Proportionality, moderation, individuality

The width of each sector of the pyramid displays the daily consumption of products and visually demonstrates their overall ratio. Just look at the scheme to understand: vegetables, cereals, fruits and dairy products are assigned paramount importance, meat, fish, eggs and nuts are secondary, but the smallest percentage of fat is given to fats. Using the pyramid involves the observance of moderate food intake. Since even low-calorie foods, eaten in large quantities, will lead to the opposite effect in reducing weight. The principle of individual nutrition encourages a person to abandon standardization and make a diet based on his age, gender and other personal characteristics.

Use of the food pyramid for children

The diet of the child should contain all the nutrients necessary for its full growth and development. It is fully able to provide healthy food. The food pyramid makes it very easy to make a children's menu. To do this, you need to focus on the elements placed in wide sectors. In this case, it is not necessary to completely exclude the remaining products, in a small amount they should also be present in the child’s menu.

What is a serving?

What is the conditional value, depending on the amount of food you take in a day. For example, if it is 100g, then 700g of cereal, 300g of whole-grain bread, about 400g of vegetables and 300g of fruit, 150g of yogut and the same amount of cheese, nuts and meat or eggs should be on your menu. If you have not had enough of this amount, you can calculate 200gr per serving, and, accordingly, the weight of all consumed products will double.

Diet for pregnant women

The peculiarity of the diet for pregnant women is that they need more proteins, as well as vitamins and minerals in the period of carrying a child. Without this, the fetus will not be able to grow properly, and the woman will not be able to preserve beauty and health.

Any of the above pyramids is suitable as the basis of the diet for pregnant women. But you need to increase the size of servings and the regularity of meals in order to meet the requirements of the body during this period. Then the child, developing in the womb, will receive all the substances he needs.