U.S. Dietary Guidelines Call for More Exercise, Less Food

Finally!  The U.S Department of Agriculture released this past Monday its closely watched dietary guidelines which are published every 5 years.  While I try to lessen any cynicism about the U.S. Government, I am staunch in my conviction that when it comes to eating habits, trust very little that comes out of Washington.

Much to my chagrin, the D.C. legislators are heavily influenced by the farm lobbyists (eat 5-12 servings of grains a day), the fast food lobby, and the mega food and drink companies like Pepsi and Coke.  If we had their way, we would eat Pop Tarts for breakfast, Macdonald’s for lunch, and dinner at Burger King, and snack in between with potato chips and pork rinds, and consume several slices of white bread, and wash it all down with Diet Coke or Red Bull.  God help us!

If our government is the one who produced the ridiculous Food Pyramid, then they have lost all credibility with healthy eaters like me.  People actually followed those guidelines right into the U.S. Obesity Crisis.  To quote our dear departed friend Jack LaLanne, “I am sickened and embarrassed at how we eat in this country.”

However, to the credit of the USDA, the intent of the Dietary Guidelines is to summarize and synthesize the knowledge about individual nutrients and food components into an interrelated set of recommendations for healthy eating that can be adopted by the public.

I must say, they distilled their message into 3 very simple principles that anyone can understand:

1.  Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight. Message:  Enjoy your food but eat less! Also, increase your level of physical activity.

2Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Message:  Don’t eat processed foods and don’t consume sugary drinks like soda.  Drink water.

3Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Note:  Strawberry Pop-tarts do not count as fruit.

I am thrilled to communicate that their guidelines are sensible and easy to understand.  It’s not perfect and tries too hard to reduce food into its components.  For instance, one of the rules is:

  • “Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African Americans or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.  The 1,500 mg. recommendation applies to about half the U.S. population including children and the majority of adults.”

My experience has shown when people have to count both calories and reduce foods to milligrams….game over!  They get bored, frustrated, and go back to their old ways.  However, if you must depend on the U.S. government to dictate your dietary habits, this is a tremendous improvement from previous guidelines.

To see the full report, click on the following.

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