Guest Post: The Messed Up Food Pyramid

This is a guest post from Kelly of Kelly the Kitchen Kop, one of my favorite real food bloggers whose down-to-earth attitude and charming witticisms make healthy eating fun, informative and easy. Hope you enjoy it! And if you’d like to contribute to Nourished Kitchen, please contact me. — Jenny

Thank you Jenny for allowing me to write a guest post for you on a topic that has me fuming.  The problem is, here probably isn’t the best place to post the rotten quality pictures I have to go with this post, on Jenny’s blog where her pictures are always crazy awesome!  (I have a good excuse, though. I snapped these from the bulletin board at my kids’ school the other day and thought at the time that I’d be using them on my own blog, where my readers are used to that sort of thing.)  The poor lady there with the after-school kids was stuck listening to my rant.  When I told her butter is good for her, she whispered apologetically, “Yeah, I eat a little now and then.”  I wanted to scream.  Due to THIS misinformation below, she and probably 95% of American adults all think the same old thing.  Maybe more?  What do you think?  In your daily life aren’t you constantly coming across very few people who know the truth about real food and healthy fats?  Maybe you’re still unsure yourself, and if so, that’s OK.  There’s so much conflicting information coming at us, it’s not easy knowing what to believe.

What’s wrong with these pictures?

Why are so many of us suffering from more diseases of all kinds, but especially Metabolic Syndrome?  Read Wikipedia’s definition:

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  It affects one in five people, and prevalence increases with age. Some studies estimate the prevalence in the USA to be up to 25% of the population.”

What are the medical disorders that combine to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes? (Also from Wikipedia.)

  • Fasting hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • High blood pressure
  • Central obesity (also known as visceral, male-pattern or apple-shaped adiposity – overweight with fat deposits mainly around the waist)
  • Decreased HDL cholesterol
  • Elevated triglycerides

We can educate ourselves and make it stop.

For years we’ve been on low fat diets but more and more of us are getting sick!  Could it be that the REAL FOODS our great grandparents ate were much better for us?  Back before fat-free milk and lean meats?  As we go through these one by one, just ask yourself what makes sense?  What is most natural?

  • Let’s start with the only one that doesn’t make my toes curl:  “Vary your veggies.”  I’ll add this, though:  “As long as you serve them with plenty of butter or other healthy fats for optimal nutrient absorption.”  (And try to use local and pesticide-free produce whenever possible.)

  • Focus on Fruit” – notice they lack a warning about too much fruit juice and all that sugar.  We rarely have juice here unless it’s 1/3 strength in my kefir soda.  While we do eat some fruit during the winter, mostly we enjoy all the fresh, local stuff when it’s in season.

  • Milk:  choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products?! What about all the healthy fats in whole milk?!  And all the FAKE stuff the nasty low-fat products have?!  Then they mention “cheese substitute” like it’s OK?  (It’s just more fake stuff…)

  • Meat & Beans” – Again the low-fat mentality shines through…  And shouldn’t they mention how important it is to find safe sources to buy our meat from?! Or maybe a little blurb about how soaking beans makes them more digestible?

  • If you have read my blog before, you know this advice on oils has me all riled up.  Limit sugars, yes, but limit healthy fats?! We don’t eat vegetable oils or trans fats at all at our house, but we eat plenty of butter, tallow, lard, coconut oil, bacon grease & ghee, and you know what?  We feel great, are full of energy, and haven’t been sick once all winter.

  • Look at this:  the fats section is soooo skinny, and the bread section is huge!  If those two switched places do you think it would start a huge turn-around in this country?  (Assuming people were eating healthy fats, that is…  Pharmaceutical companies might feel the pinch, though.)

Is any of this information new to you?

If so, don’t feel bad, most of us are either still there or were not that long ago.  As I said above, figuring out who to believe with so much conflicting information coming at us isn’t easy for anyone.

Let’s get busy spreading the Truth about food far and wide!

Top photo credit (All the rest are from my handy-dandy camera.  You know you want one.  Especially Jenny.)

Kelly has been blogging about “politically incorrect” health & nutrition topics on Kelly the Kitchen Kop since January of 2008. She has passionately researched how to eat better and live better since discovering the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2004.  She lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband of 22 years and 4 children.

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What people are saying

  1. Local Nourishment says

    The scientific community seems to be coming around. There’s a great article in Scientific American about the culprit causing heart problems being carbs, not saturated fat. It could take another generation or two before the feds catch on, though.

    My mother-in-law turned pale when she saw lard in my cupboard. She had just come from a visit with my husband’s brother who has just had heart surgery. She didn’t say a word, but you gotta KNOW what she’s thinking.

  2. says

    Thanks Kelly for this awesome food pyramid rebutal! the food pyramid is literally upside down, in my humble opinion. real fats and/or protiens should be #1, bread should be the tiniest section, reserved for perhaps a couple times per week or so, if that. bread and grains are optional, there are no nutrients that we can’t get elsewhere (ie. vitamin b is grains is much better absorbed from meats), not to mention that many people are sensitive or outright allergic to certain grains and very few people have allergies to meat, and as far as i know, you cannot be allergic to animal fats.

    • Laura says

      I don’t know about animal fats, but a friend of mine has a son that is deathly allergic to ALL red meats. He is also allergic to gluten and all dairy. I feel for him, he’s gonna have a rough time in social settings b/c of his food allergies.

  3. alottabull says


    I wanted to point out what I believe to be an error in your guest post at NourishedKitchen. See below:

    From above:
    Milk: choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products?! What about all the healthy fats in whole milk?! And all the FAKE stuff the nasty low-fat products have?! Then they mention “cheese substitute” like it’s OK? (It’s just more fake stuff…)

    I agree with you, it’s just that the poster didn’t say “cheese substitue” it said “cheese OR substitute with other calcium-rich foods.” The poster doesn’t appear to be talking about “cheese substitute” as you imply.

    Again I love your posts, just want to point out that I believe that is an incorrect reading of the poster.

  4. says

    anita- that is so cool! protien and fats on the bottom, bread towords the top, and sweet fruits and assumingly, sugar at the very top!

  5. Janelle says

    I think it must be said at least once that fats get a bad rap because of the fats that the average population is eating. I eat butter, olive oil, palm oil,coconut oil, and lots of them along with a lot of lamb that has its own fats but I would never recommend to anyone that eating a cheeseburger from MacDonalds or a Lunchables with American cheese, or in West Philly where I live, a cheese steak and fries as good sources of fat.
    I do recommend all the time that people eat eggs because even if they aren’t eating good eggs at least they are getting decent protein with their eggs. I also recommend full fat yogurt for the same reason.

    Just a thought.
    Good blogging.

  6. says

    I have been trying to teach my 8 year old daughter that the food pyramid they are teaching her in school is wrong, that whole milk is better for her than low fat milk, and that butter is good for her but the junk food she sees all her friends eating is not, even though she is I am sorry to say overweight and her junk-eating friends are not (: . I tell her that she probably knows more truths about nutrition than most adults. But she gets resistance at school. My daughter is not afraid to tell people, including adults, that they are wrong, and then they argue with her and try to “teach” her their “truth.” I am appalled that sometimes they go so far as to convince her that something I packed her for lunch is spoiled and to throw it out, for example kimchi! She used to love it and now she won’t eat it. I’m working on her, and perhaps this is wrong but I tell her to give her teachers the answers she knows they want to hear as long as she knows that her mother is right and they are wrong (at least when it comes to nutrition) and that she should feel pride in knowing that she is more informed than they are.

  7. says

    I have to say as a child I was always the one with her fingers in the butter dish (of course I may be the only one of my five sisters who didn’t need braces at all, although I had way too much sugar and had several cavities in my baby teeth) That said I did discover Weston Price and his work before I had my own daughter and all of the concepts just make intuitive sense to me. However, one of my hardest thoughts to overcome is the butter thing. Not that we don’t use it! Or that we do ANYTHING low fat, only cream, whole raw milk & fermented dairy products, butter, lard, coconut oil & olive oil for this family. I usually slather the butter on rather liberally :) but I’ll catch myself wanting to say: “No, eat your bread…it’s not just a butter delivery device”, but of course, it is :) I’ve never had any problem overcoming resistance to any other “low fat” conditioning…probably because I hate the texture of all those engineered thickeners that are used to imitate the REAL thing!

  8. BRB says

    I’m well into the Weston Price thing, but every so often I get this paranoid feeling that I’m completely wrong following the diet. I guess that kind of feeling is fairly normal if you’ve been going in one direction for quite a while.

  9. Gloria says

    How refreshing to read this article and posts. I became very concerned about nutrition back in the early 80s over my own health issues and stumbled upon an original copy of Dr. Price’s book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” at my little country library.

    I’ve been a true believer ever since…most difficult since even my own family and many friends have told me over and over again that I was ruining my health. Since childhood, my own body demanded lots of butter on starches and I always wanted the piece of meat with the most fat. To this day, I almost prefer the fat to the meat itself. Recent research has now shown me why this was the right things to do for my body…protecting blood sugar levels.

    Over the last six years I’ve developed an allergy to wheat products and possibly other starches. So, it’s only meat, butter, and some vegetables for me. Sugar is totally out. My energy levels are much higher now and I’m losing weight…a battle fought for many years with hypothyroidism. Many issues that I believed to be age related (I’m 65) have all but disappeared since I abandoned all processed foods. It didn’t take months…within three days, the difference was remarkable.

    School lunches? While employed by an elementary school, part of my job was to eat the school lunch on a daily basis with a small group of special students. Without any change in activity levels, I gained 20 pounds in one semester. No wonder our kids are so overweight.

    Yes, our “food experts” and our medical community have done us much harm–not to mention the fluoride in our water supplies. Dr. Price was 100% on target.

    I’m glad I found you this morning. Keep up the good work…I’ll make it a personal mission to help spread the word.

    • JenG says

      I was just reading this post and I also deal with hypothyroidism, also had my gallbladder out last year, and I am trying to regain consistent health. Could you give ideas of what your daily menus are, when you are totally leaving out wheat? Thanks.

  10. Jana @ The Summer House says

    It’s so stinkin hard to change my thinking-I still feel guilty for eating butter sometimes. Thanks for a very informative article. I retweeted it.

  11. Maria says

    First of all, yayyyy Grand Rapids!! :) I’m from there too! I probably wouldn’t be so crazy about it if I hadn’t been stuck not-there… the military’s got me in Northern California, which is a little hellish in comparison.

    BACK ON TOPIC!! (Sorry for that tangent)

    I agree with most everything, but wanted to point out the misinterpretation of the cheese/milk/low-fat dairy sign… it says “…or substitute with other calcium-rich foods.” Here, they’re saying “substitute” as a verb… as in, if you can’t eat, for example, milk– you should substitute with other calcium-rich foods… say, broccoli, kale, whatever. Makes more sense that way..

  12. Anna says

    The more I learn about nutrition (and pay attention to my body), the more I think that the food pyramid isn’t actually bad in its distribution of the food groups. A lot of cultures (without obesity, diabetes or other health issues) have grain or tuber-based diets. However, the major problem, in my mind, is the removal of saturated fat. If the food pyramid emphasized whole milk and regular meats, instead of their low-fat versions, and told people to avoid vegetable oils like the plague, I honestly believe people would do just fine eating the food pyramid. It’s how I eat these days and is how many of our grandparents ate. They weren’t low-carb at all. It’s the removal of saturated fats from our diets, and the overload of PUFAs that cause our health issues, in my opinion.

  13. says

    And it’s not just lack of true information, it’s the volume of dangerously questionable information! Thanks for the post!

  14. says

    I really enjoyed this article. The food guide pyramid is a joke and will hopefully be fixed asap. At least there are a lot more people out there that are spreading the truth about how to truly live a healthy life. Blogs like these all help the cause.

  15. says

    I am just catching on to “real foods”. I’ve known for a while the pyramid was out of whack, esp. in the grains/breads dept, but I’m learning about fats now–the opposite of what they tell us–and I’m amazed.

    What got me into looking into fats was I went on a Candida cleanse. I was eating a lot of nuts, almond butter, whole milk yogurts, and I was still dropping weight! But as soon as I reincorporated flour (even whole grain) again the weight crept up. So I’m being especially careful, realizing it’s a digestion thing most of all, and as long as I keep the food real and prepare it properly my body will not rebel.

    I’ve also been so pleased with the way I feel using higher fat products. And I found that when I use them I don’t feel a need for sugar as much, because I feel like I’m spoiling myself–whole milk yogurt and almond butter are so decadent!

    I have so much more to learn and I’m thankful for your site! We really need a truth revolution with our food in this country. I am ending by pointing out that we all know who subsidizes that crazy food pyramid–the cereal companies.

  16. jonathan says

    They didn’t mention “cheese substitute” they said cheese OR substitute for other calcium rich foods. OR. Not that it makes that much of a difference in the grand scheme. Just worth pointing out.

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