I’m sure you’ve been waiting with abated breath to find out how the United States Department of Agriculture revamped the food pyramid. I know I have. …
Let’s take a look, shall we? Here’s the official website. You’ll find a ton of information here: Tips, interactive tools, information for specific audiences (ie., kids, pregnant women, weight loss, etc.).
Time.com blogger Meredith Melnick wrote about it on Thursday. In her blog, she reiterated what health officials have said: That the new plate design is meant to be simpler, a more “clear” visual cue.
What do you think of the plate concept? Does this one make more sense? Is it clear you should be eating more fruits and vegetables than anything else?
Now on to some of the controversial aspects of the guidelines. Most criticism seems to be on the fact that while the guidelines do a good job at explaining what to eat, it doesn’t clearly spell out what not to eat. So limiting things like saturated fats … what would those be, specifically? I suppose you could look at this pie chart and figure it out. But, wouldn’t it be easier to say you need to limit meat and dairy? Hmmm?
That’s the basis of a recent complaint filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Their claim is that the dietary guidelines “call for limiting ‘cholesterol,’ ‘saturated fats’ and ‘solid fats,’ without clearly explaining that meat, dairy products and eggs (which are included in the guidelines) are the only sources of cholesterol in most people’s diets; that dairy products are the No. 1 source of saturated fat; and that meat and dairy products deliver the majority of solid fats in the American diet.”
Incidentally, the group has another reason to deride the guidelines. The group points out how the guidelines are at odds with federal food subsidies.
Want another group that is at odds with the USDA guidelines? Weston A. Price Foundation issued their alternative guideline to good health, offering a plan that isn’t one-size-fits-all and one that focuses on not cutting out healthy fats like butter or egg yolks. Here is the foundation’s press release on the subject. This foundation works to demystify saturated fats. According to a spokesperson “A recent meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies found no evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.”
For more colorful and layperson criticism, scroll to the comments section of the NPR posting on the new change. Some point out the dairy issue. Others say there needs to be more protein (and of course, some say there’s too much protein).
Who to believe? What do you eat? Is your head spinning yet? I’m inclined to encourage you all to just arm yourself with knowledge and figure it out for yourselves. If you eat meat or dairy, fine. If you don’t, fine. My best advice is to consume things in moderation and to keep things colorful on your plate.