Dr. Willett's creation: coming soon to a dining hall near you.
Dr. Willett's creation: coming soon to a dining hall near you. By Laura C. Mckiernan

Eating Well, Harvard-Style

These days, it’s a piece of (low-calorie) cake to find sugar-free, fat-free, or even carb-free foods. Politic-free foods, on the
By Shannon E. Flynn

These days, it’s a piece of (low-calorie) cake to find sugar-free, fat-free, or even carb-free foods. Politic-free foods, on the other hand, are not so easy to come by. If you’re worried about how food industry lobbyists have corrupted the government’s dietary guidelines, fret no more: Harvard has created its own food pyramid!

In 2005, the USDA replaced its 1992 food pyramid with a new version, which Walter C. Willett, Frederick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, dubbed “a complete joke.” The pyramid’s recommendations (heavy on dairy, meat, and grains) are rife with political undertones, according to Jami M. Snyder, Communications Coordinator of Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS).

“It’s very convenient for the industry,” Willett said. “Everyone’s in the game.”

So Willett created his own food pyramid, displayed in Harvard’s dining halls and his book “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy.” Willett’s design distinguishes between good and bad fats and carbohydrates, less dairy than the government’s dietary guidelines, and “sparing” servings of red meat and white bread.

Even though it isn’t exactly edible, “weight control and exercise” comprise the base of the pyramid. It’s not a call for anorexia, but rather a reminder of the benefits of breaking a sweat. Whole grains and yummy plant oils are the next most- recommended foods.

“Dr. Willett’s pyramid represents the optimum of knowledge that we currently have,” said Dr. Karin B. Michels, Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology.

Even though they usually survive on stale pizza and cheap beer, students do seem to be taking an interest in what they’re eating.

“I think it’s wonderful that the new pyramid is being displayed in the dining halls, especially so people can see it right before they eat,” said Katie A. Koh ’09.

Take that, Sunday sundaes! FM will eat ours on a treadmill with a side of plant oil. Delish!

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