History of Food Guides & My First Nutrition Assignment

I was organizing my computer files recently (type A much?) and started perusing through some of my old college work. In the spring semester of my freshman year (first year for us Canadians), I took “Nutrition and Human Health.” This was my first real introduction to food, nutrition labels, macronutrients, micronutrients and the food guide pyramid… the nutrition “basics.”

The timing is quite funny – going from my first nutrition assignment to now being a Certified Holistic Nutritionist! Just thought I’d sneak that in there as I passed my final exam this week :) I am so excited to start working with clients (and continue studying) so stay tuned for more official-ness of Honey Bee Health & Nutrition – lots to still do in order to get it up and running!

Anyways, this assignment is a prime example of how conventional nutrition wisdom (thanks to the food guides the governing bodies put into place) shape our thinking and practices regarding food and nutrition. Obviously my outlook on what we “should” eat has drastically changed since taking this class and submitting this assignment. Thank goodness.

But first, I think it’s important to back up and see how we got to where we are today:


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The first food guide was introduced by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1916. It included five food groups: vegetables & fruits; meat, fish & milk; cereals; simple sweets; butter & wholesome fats.

The first recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) were announced in 1941. With this specific information on nutrient needs, several new food guides were developed by various governing agencies:

1942: 8 new food groups were introduced by The Office of Defense, Health and Welfare Services)

1943: National Wartime Nutrition Guide was put into place


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1956: Basic Four Food Groups were introduced: meat, milk, vegetables & fruits, breads & cereals

1979: Basic Four Food Groups revised to Daily Food Guide

1992: Food Guide Pyramid was introduced by the USDA

2005: Food Guide Pyramid revised to MyPyramid


2011: MyPlate is introduced


I wanted to share an excerpt of my assignment from my class. The jist of the assignment was to diarize your food intake and tally your servings over a few days and then write about it – as per the teachings of MyPyramid.


Nutrition and Human Health: Food Guide Pyramid Comparison

Amy Sherman

February 3, 2010

Emerson College


Food Servings Tally by Food Group

Nutrition Assignment1


Nutrient Intakes

Nutrition Assignment2

Assessment of My Food Intake

I usually think I watch what I eat and, for the most part, I like to consider myself a healthy eater. This assignment showed me that this assumption might not be entirely true and accurate.


For every day that I recorded my food intake, I consumed more than the recommended amount from each food group. The total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium levels that I ate were excessive and resulted in mostly “sad face” emoticons from the My Pyramid website.


Eating the right amount and right kinds of foods is really important for our bodies and for our life. My body needs to consume “good” foods in order to be able to stay energized for classes, homework and sports.


I am going to consume more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis by eating fruits, like a banana in my cereal, or an apple on my way to class, in the morning and eating a wider variety of vegetables from the salad bar at the Dining Hall.


I am going to become much more conscious on how much fat, sodium and cholesterol is present in the foods I consume by looking at the nutrition label and facts.


I want to limit my “guilty pleasure foods,” such as Lucky Charms cereal that I love to get at the Dining Hall. With these changes I think that I can really improve the shape of my pyramid and become more compliant with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.


Well I definitely got a few things right! Yay for eating more fruits and veggies and limiting Lucky Charms… LOL. It has taken me many years to get to where I am today regarding my thoughts on food and nutrition; what works for me and my body; and what food has a place in a healthy diet. It is most certainly a journey and everyone starts and finishes in a different place. From Lucky Charms, to low-fat Fiber One, to instant oatmeal to free-range eggs.

I am always learning new things about food and what I believe we should be eating. But trust me on this one: real food. The food that has not been processed five billion and one times to yield something that is really not food at all. Yup, that’s the stuff to chow down on.

I hope that I can help in your real food journey.


Amy beer and grill.jpg

Okay now that the lesson (and shameless self-plug for my nutrition coaching) is over, I think it’s time to celebrate today’s holiday with a few festive treats.

Halloween Treats

Sunbutter FudgeMini Chocolate PB Cups

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Bites – Orange Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Halloween!


Questions of the day…
What do you think about MyPyramid and food guides in general? 


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10 thoughts on “History of Food Guides & My First Nutrition Assignment

  1. Isn’t it so funny to look back on the ways we used to eat, especially if we have made some major changes in eating habits? I did a “WIAW then and now” a few weeks ago comparing how I was eating when I first started eating “healthy” (or so I thought) back in 2005. I was eating so much fat-free ,low calorie, artificially sweetened junk its scary! I am totally with you on the real foods! So much better!

  2. Ugh! I’m not a fan of the food pyramid! I remember learning about it and feeling like the small amount of fat was just ridiculous but always kept it in mind and felt like I fell short. Plus all the whole grains I tried to eat made me so sick! I also hated that old nutrition assignments would make is track our own food and inevitably come up sub par. I hope they don’t do that anymore in school.

  3. Down with the food pyramid! Seriously, how many deaths and illnesses can be traced back to that food pyramid? I say lots. Government food guides… I don’t trust them at all.

    Congrats on passing your exams though, yay! =)

  4. Isn’t it crazy how much our understanding of nutrition continues to change and grow? The USDA pyramid and plate is decent but still missing some key elements (like healthy fat! and noting that dairy can be optional!!) Love your ideas for sweet treats- drooling!

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