The European country has an interesting opinion on where you should get your protein. 
Credit: Getty: valentinrussanov

In the mind of the average American, Belgian food doesn't conjure up images of healthy choices. Sweet waffles, salty fries, and bubbly beer are the usual fares imagined. But last month, the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living revealed an all new inverted food pyramid to promote wholesome food choices.

Credit: Photo: Flemish Institute for Healthy Living

The guide is divided into four distinct sections, each color coded to indicate which foods to focus on and which to avoid, along with a suggestion at the top to just drink water. The top dark green section focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and vegetable oils. Next is a light green tier featuring fish, dairy products, eggs, and chicken. At the bottom of the pyramid is yellow, meaning these are foods that shouldn't be consumed often, which lists red meat and butter. Alongside, in a large red circle titled “as little as possible,” are all the junk foods that the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living recommends avoiding like pizza, fries, sugary desserts and drinks, processed meats, and alcoholic drinks.

While these recommendations of eating more fruits and veggies while avoiding junk food may look familiar to anyone who has glanced at a nutritional guide in the last few years, this Belgian guide is quite different.

America's MyPlate, which is a plate-based visual guide that touts five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy), doesn't give detailed recommendations like the Flemish Institute does. While any protein can be placed onto MyPlate, the Institute's guide instead focuses on plant-based options, like legumes and nuts, and categorizes which meats should be eaten more often than others. The Belgian inverted pyramid also seems to recommend less dairy than its American counterpart. MyPlate suggests having a glass of dairy (presumably milk) at every meal, while the Flemish Institue recommends drinking water instead and only has dairy products in their second tier of wholesome foods. 

While the Flemish Institute for Healthy Living's food pyramid will likely have little affect on America's eating habits, it's a major indication of how healthy eating is being defined: More plants, less meat. Focus on plant-based food is at an all-time high around the world, and we at Cooking Light are hoping it stays that way.