LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recall the elements of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid and recommended dietary guidelines.

Calculating a therapeutic diet can be complicated and is best left to dietitians. It is now common practice for dietitians or dietary kitchens to select foods for diets using the food groups outlined in figure 9–2, the Food Guide Pyramid. These foods are classified according to their nutritional value and the number of servings that should be eaten each day.

Figure 8-2.—Food Guide Pyramid.


The Food Guide Pyramid emphasizes foods from the five food groups shown in the sections of the pyramid. Each of these groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients we require. For good health we need them all. For everyday living, the simplest and most practical plan is to follow those same guidelines, selecting from the various food groups the type and amount of food recommended.


The food pyramid graphically communicates the message of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Diets should be built upon a base of complex carbohydrates and less fats. The placement of the food groups starting at the base of the pyramid conveys the current recommendations. These recommendations are as follows:

Generally accepted guidelines suggest that you eat a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. Your diet should consist of at least five combined servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Avoid fat when possible. Eat at regular intervals when possible, and avoid snacking late at night.