The new food pyramid: healthy eating at home and at work
The Flemish Institute of Healthy Lifestyle (Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven) has published a new alternative to the active food pyramid. This is the result of new recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. For the first time, the guideline is splitting food and exercise recommendations into two separate pyramids.
Food pyramid: avoid processed products
The new pyramid takes into account our current consumption and the effect of what we eat on health and the environment. What has changed?
- Plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruit and legumes, are at the top of the upside-down pyramid together with water. These products offer the greatest health benefits and can be eaten to your heart's content.
- Animal products, including milk, cheese and poultry, should not be removed from your diet, but consumed in small portions. Red meat, butter and palm oil are – especially in large quantities – detrimental to the health. So, eat those in moderation.
- But the major offender is processed food: biscuits, chips, sodas, alcohol, salami, etc. All these products are saturated with added sugars, fats and salts. For the first time, they get a separate section, next to the pyramid. They are actually superfluous in a healthy diet and can be harmful to the health.
Exercise pyramid: don't sit for too long
While, in the previous model, physical exercise was embedded in the active food pyramid, the two are now separate. The pyramid divides exercise based on intensity, and recommends low-intensity exercise for most of the day. That's very easy to achieve, for example by taking the stairs instead of the lift. In addition, you should exercise a bit more intensively regularly, and sweat it out at least once a week to strengthen your muscles.
Interestingly, the new pyramid stresses the danger of 'sitting still for too long' Practicing sports after-work is definitely healthy, but does not replace the need for constant, light motion. During work, get up every now and then to get a glass of water or go for a walk at lunch time.
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