Food Balance Wheel

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The Food Balance Wheel suggests an alternate interpretation of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid[1] recommendations for balanced eating. Created in Portugal in 1977, and adapted by author Art Dragon,[2] it converts the principles of the food pyramid from a number-based format to a visual presentation that may be more accessible[citation needed] to users interested in balanced eating.


Fully implementing the guidelines for presenting food groups on a pyramid involves keeping track of food eaten throughout the day, associating each with a specific food group, comparing the total servings within each group against recommendations, and adjusting meals where necessary. The Food Balance Wheel was developed to provide a more visual alternative, for people more inclined to use a method requiring less counting, recording, and comparing.


Common components of different food groups can each be represented as a continuum of spokes on a wheel. These spokes can then be sized to roughly the same proportions as the food group servings on the food pyramid. Rather than list foods eaten at every meal, as is the case with the food pyramid, food groups are marked in slots provided around the periphery of the wheel. With this arrangement, choosing foods equally spaced from all around the wheel will automatically provide a balanced mix of nutrients equivalent to that recommended by the food pyramid. In addition, ‘balancing’ the wheel by continually choosing foods from the blank slots will help ensure a diversity of nutrients.


Design of the Food Balance Wheel started with a modified food pyramid at its center. The placement and relative size of each wheel spoke reflects the pyramid’s food groups and serving sizes. The sequencing of the different foods was based on the USDA Nutritive Value of Foods tables.[3] This arrangement presents the three main nutrient categories (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) as a continuum of different foods transitioning from one to the next, based on the relative proportions of each nutrient. In addition, this layout was adjusted to separate fiber from non-fiber foods, and to place foods containing saturated fat in order from lowest to highest to help steer the user to more healthful food choices.

Benefits of use[edit]

A marked up Food Balance Wheel:

  • Serves as a visual status of how well the user has balanced recent meals.
  • Keeps track of foods that have been eaten recently.
  • Suggests which foods to choose for the next few meals.
  • Encourages variety resulting from choosing foods from many different groups.
  • Can be used for small, large, or multiple meals throughout the day or week.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Food Guide Pyramid". U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  2. ^ Dragon, Art (2008). Balanced Eating Made Easy with the Food Balance Wheel, Sea Level Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9802310-0-7[page needed]
  3. ^