Food Pyramids

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‘Food’ is a topic that always comes up at some time during a course in various forms. Sometimes it is just a vocabulary issue: course members ask to review food vocabulary for example because they have guests from abroad and would like to explain their company’s menu. What we have often done was to simply get copies of the menu of the week and start translating, realizing how difficult even the translation of food vocabulary can sometimes be, especially when it comes to fancy menu names. (This would normally be the place where I would relate my famous food translation anecdote, but I will refrain from that for now, suffice it to say it involves turkeys and patrols).

And it’s always nice to have some pictures.This term I was looking for some different kind of visual approach to the topic and came up with the idea of food pyramids. I searched the internet and was surprised not by how many pictures of food pyramids I found (there is so much of everything online, I’m not surprised by quantity any more), but by the different kinds of pyramids.

There was the standard food pyramid from the USDA (US Department for Agriculture) and the one probably most are familiar with. There was another one from a web page called And then there was one called The Real Food Pyramid. The latter one opened a floodgate for me to life-changing research about food, obesity, the link between food and auto-immune diseases and bad health conditions in general. More and more health practioners, from nutritionists to doctors, link health problems to our modern diets, especially to problems created by industrial food and added sugar in form of high fructose corn syrup.

One of my personal favorite webpages I go to quite frequently is Dr. Mercola’s webpage: Here you find a lot of information related to all kinds of health issues from better exercising regimes to warnings of what not to eat.
This site offers great extra language practice if you’re into these topics, including videos for listening comprehension practise. Here is where I found additional information on all the  issues mentioned above.

I was actually quite surprised how many of my students are concerned about food and their own diets. (Note here that the English word ‘diet’ in its general use does not necessarily refer to a special weight loss diet, but refers to the kind of food you normally eat; see for example Modern Western diet.) Among those interested were quite a few young men. One (slightly older) male course member remarked once that this food topic and diet talk only interested women, didn’t it? Well, I could assure him: it didn’t. There goes your stereotype.

The food pyramids alone filled many lesson hours. They were great for revising food vocabulary, especially the Real Food Pyramid page which you can nicely transform into a picture dictionary page. But they also triggered various discussions on food and health. It was interesting to compare all three pyramids with each other and discuss our own eating habits.

In one of my next food related post, I will tell you a little more about the ‘Real Food Pyramid’ and the debate on grains, sugars and the so-called Paleo diet.

Below is Dr Mercola’s food pyramid, which comes pretty close to the Real Food one.


Further links:

R. Lustig, Fat Chance: the bitter truth about sugar, HarperCollins 2012                                             90 min lecture by Robert Lustig (Dr. med)


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