Over the years, we have seen the USDA food graphic evolve. The evolution of this graphic speaks a lot to living an intuitive eating lifestyle. The old graphic used to break down the food groups into how many servings of each group you should eat each day. Servings were not defined, so you were forced to figure out portion sizes on your own—and with pictures of loaves of bread, whole chickens and steaks filling in the sections of the graphics, it certainly wasn’t clear what a “normal” portion size was.
The graphic soon evolved to a pyramid shape, this one with vertical triangles in different sizes to depict visually how much each food group should be represented in your daily meals. It gave more freedom for you to decide how much to eat. In giving you that freedom, you still needed to rely on portion control, something that can be difficult in our culture given the over-sized meals we see in restaurants.
We have since moved to the current USDA food graphic, MyPlate. This graphic depicts a 9-inch plate divided into different sized sections, meant to show how much space each food group should take up on your plate, since people eat off a plate and not a pyramid. This graphic does focus on the bigger problem in our country of over-sized portions and overeating by providing a visual that people can relate to. It is a helpful tool to build a healthy meal.
If you look at the journey the food graphic has taken, it is similar to the journey of someone with a diet mentality on the path to becoming an intuitive eater. The earlier versions of the food guide pyramid told Americans how many servings to eat from each food group, very much like a diet to follow, which turned out to be very unrealistic for most people. Thus, the movement to today’s MyPlate which provides more of a blueprint from which you can build healthy meals and is based on your food preferences and desires.
As a past (hopefully!) chronic dieter, you too followed a regimented diet plan telling you what, when and how much to eat. But as you have been moving forward on your intuitive eating journey, you have banished those diets, shifted your mindset, and have taken the power back to decide what, when and how much to eat.
You know the foods that make you feel healthy and strong and those that make you feel tired and bloated. You understand what it means to eat until you are “just satisfied” and not to the point of overfull and overstuffed. And if you are still figuring this out, no worries. You are on the path to self-discovery and will get there!
Taking back control that was taken away from you has made you stronger. Continue to follow your intuition, and you will find that you are likely choosing lighter, healthier foods that help your body run its best. And, in the end, I bet your plate will look like MyPlate.
Your turn to take action: Please share your thoughts…How has your intuitive eating journey been going?