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Did you know we’re not doing The Food Pyramid anymore? Oh yeah. Not a joke. The FDA has moved on to a totally new concept called My Plate. So, we’re feeling a little resistant and a little nostalgic for simpler times. 

If the FDA is going to just keep reinventing how to eat nutritiously, we figured we might pitch a few creative ideas. So we asked our staff writers… what are your own personal Four Basic Food Groups?

Dan Farkas

The pyramid made some sense. It was a guide for a full day. But a plate? A plate full of food is designed to be eaten in one sitting. In keeping with these new restrictions, one’s venue is of prime consideration:

Four basic food groups at a ballgame:

  1.   Peanuts
  2.   Beer
  3.   Rinse
  4.   Repeat


It all depends. Are we hungover? (Black coffee, water, maybe a slice of toast, and a giant helping of leave me alone ‘til lunch). Is it Monday morning and we’re getting ready to go to work? Well, whadd’ya know? Same breakfast.

Lunch on the run in NYC? 

A slice and a drink. You can put your other two food groups wherever the hell you want.

Pre-theater dinner? 

Sorry, the prix fixe menu has three items only. No substitutions and no soup for you.

Sam Hedenberg

Want to become a world-class smart ass like me? Here’s my recipe for success. Eat plentifully from these four food groups and you, too, can achieve greatness.

Beef Jerky – Everyone knows the cornerstone of a good diet contains two things: protein and enough sodium to kill an ox. Jerky is expensive, but trust me, your ability to retain water after you gorge yourself on a bag of Jack Links will be worth it.

Beer – Another twofer here, because you get the carbs you need to maintain your trendy Dad bod AND your hydration requirements. Eight glasses a day? Don’t mind if I do! Bonus: Beer makes boring people WAY more interesting!

Spicy Snacks – A party for your mouth AND your asshole!

Fruity Candy – This is where you’ll get most of your daily sugar requirements. Lots of options here. In my opinion, the more cavity-inducing, the better.

Erin Vail

Four Basic Food Groups for Watching Buffalo Bills Football with me, Erin Vail:

  1. Beef on Weck

If you’ve never heard of a beef-on-weck, let me enlighten you: it’s a sandwich consisting of roast beef sliced thin and piled high on a fluffy Kimmelweck roll (a bun with salt and caraway seeds on top), warm au jus, and horseradish. My grandpa used to overdo it on the horseradish and cough a bunch – so that’s the bar I’m operating at.

  1. Pizza

Pizza is easy to eat and easy to put down on your plate at a moment’s notice if you have to grab your cousin’s shoulder while Josh Allen takes off with the football without tucking it, running with it while sticking his arm straight out in front of him like a human stick figure.

  1. Wings

For the record, I’m team drumstick.

  1. Wavy Lay’s and Bison Dip

Bison dip is a Western New York variety of French onion dip: for when you still need something to stress eat when there’s less than two minutes in the fourth quarter and you really need Gabe Davis to make a catch.

Kevin Shea

The government has spent billions coming up with the perfect food pyramid to try to help America get healthier.  Have you been outside in America lately?  Cut my taxes and accept that this is the food pyramid we need.


This includes tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, chips, guacamole, salsa, cheese and more if you want.  And please do not build a wall so we are able to enjoy any new recipes coming from Mexico.

Protein Bars

Bars that taste like candy but are advertised as a training supplement are a great way maintain your beach body.

Grilled Meats

I think Neanderthals were the first to grill their meats.  Look how well that worked out for them.  Gas or charcoal does not matter.  Heat up the grill and throw some meat on there.



Jay Heltzer


In my 50’s, I don’t digest food like I’m in my 20’s, and I’d like to live past my 70’s. Skinless chicken breasts, salmon, food cooked in olive oil, greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss char. Whole grain baked goods.


A piece of fruit, or some broccoli from the party tray, water


Food that covers new ground. The bright red bulbous orb from my local farmer’s market with an unpronounceable name. Remember when I tried chicken feet in a Chinese restaurant? Pork rinds, because you thought only cheese had a rind.


Eating when no one is watching: Cheeseburgers, pizza, Kool Whip, extra mayo on my Jimmy John’s #9 with no tomatoes (because fuck those raw larvae-stage, wagon wheel food ruiner circular slices of snot, that’s why.) Pepsi, potato chips, and all byproducts of my lords and saviors, Ben & Jerry.

Michael Maiello

Passed Canapés

Should be consumable in a single bite, like tartar on a wafer with caviar,  unless the hosts have a sense of humor and insist on overstuffed, sloppy sliders or food with skewers that the cater waiter leaves you holding awkwardly after you’ve eaten the stabbed yakitori.

Food Network (classic)

Expertly crafted meals with family stories behind them, requiring a trip to a farmer’s market and restaurant supply store to complete. Yes, you can make ricotta gnocchi at home!

Food Network (Contemporary)

These candy-coated kitchen sink smothered, smoked kielbasa bites, prepared by an over-stimulated 9-year-old trombonist thrust by her parents into a competition setting, are gonna be off the hook!

Yelp Reviewed

I thought Applebee’s would be a great place to celebrate a 10th wedding anniversary, since it’s where we got engaged, but this place has gone downhill. Two stars, though, because the poppers are still yummy.

Sarah Razner

In a time where truth is subjective and fact can be more fiction, there’s no reason to believe that my four food groups are not the best diet both in nutrition and flavor.*

Açaí bowls

My go-to weekend, post-workout treat, I have yet to meet an açaí bowl I don’t like. Blend some berries, chill them, toss in your favorite fruits, granola, and dark chocolate and you have a superbly delicious, turn-down-fast-food worthy meal. How much do I love them? I literally have one once a week and savor it every time. That’s how much.


As someone who has TMD/TMJ, hard, crunchy foods are generally not recommended by doctors as great options. But I will regularly inflict jaw pain on myself for these salty snacks. Yes, I could have a healthier snack with less pain, but they’re addictive and allegedly fat free so it all balances out, right?

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

What is life without indulgences? Boring and drab! After a long week, a bowl of cookie dough ice cream is my go-to way to “treat myself.” Will I sometimes eat too much of this chocolatey-cookie flavored heaven and regret it? Without a doubt. But like a trend you know is terrible but can’t resist, I come back to it again and again.


In Wisconsin where summer fun is limited, watermelon is my way of keeping the summer spirit alive all year-round. Sure, buying watermelon out of season is playing a game of Russian roulette, but when I get that sweet, juicy one, the disgusting gritty texture of all those before it becomes worth it.

*This is a hot take with little scientific value to back it up. Please form a diet at your own/your doctor’s discretion.

Jillian Conochan

“My 30”

As in, “have I eaten my 30 ‘things that come from the ground’ yet this week?” I have? Good, now let’s move on to the fun stuff


Every Sunday, unless out of the tristate


Including even-numbered stacks of cookies, pumpkin pie October through December, and other Marie Antoinette approved delights


Because they’re right, you can’t eat just one chip, so I buy zero, and here I am eating uncooked pasta to try to satisfy my crunch needs

Mikael Johnson

Up until Fall of 2022*

  1.       PB&J: Maier’s Premium Italian Bread; Strawberry Jam, natural creamy peanut butter—chunky peanut butter did not exist in this dojo.

Side Note: Until last year, I probably averaged a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich once a day for the past 15 years.

  1.       Great Grains Cereal & Soy Milk
  2.       Greek Yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, granola
  3.       Rotisserie Chicken

After Fall of 2022 (post-colitis diagnosis) **

  1.       Corn Flakes & Oat Milk
  2.       Greek Yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, bananas –if you see granola, tell it I said, “Hey.”
  3.       Rotisserie Chicken
  4.       Corn Tortillas, Black Beans, and some kind of meat—probably chicken.

*All food groups include coffee

**All food groups include coffee, though limited to “two” cups a day, the remainder of meals supplemented by “eight” glasses of water.

Dilane Mitchell

It’s really very simple. The four food groups are:


This includes coffee, tea, water (flat or sparkling), smoothies, shakes, juices, etc. Hot or cold. Anytime of day. You can easily make a meal of a combination of beverages.


As a life-long Chicagoan, I really don’t think this one needs further elaboration.

Ice Cream

Especially if the ice cream has toppings like peanuts or pecans. That’s a meal.


Every meal needs rice.

Josh Bard

I am not a doctor but I’ve watched a lot of them in TV shows so I feel very confident that there are 4 things you should eat every day if you want a good BMI and to feel good about yourself.

Something that is good for you that you don’t enjoy. 

This could be a hearty vegetable, an underdressed salad, something with fiber, but nothing that is sugary or cheese-gooped.

Something that is good for you that you do enjoy. 

This could be grapes, eggs, yogurt, or roasted veggies.

Something that you can tell yourself is good for you and maybe is and maybe isn’t. 

This could be a smoothie, sweet potato fries, a granola bar, or avocado toast.

Something that you enjoy that is not good for you. 

Pretty much the rest of the stuff that’s out there. I recommend pizza or baby back ribs.

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