New government dietary guidelines: What you need to know

New government dietary guidelines: What you need to know
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Last week, the government issued an update on the country’s dietary guidelines…if you can call them that. I will not mince words here: They’re more like…guesses. Guesses, highly influenced by lobbyists and individuals with conflicts of interest who have one foot in the FDA and the other in the meat or dairy industry, for example. Guesses, because it’s impossible to conduct epidemiological studies in terms of anything related to food and diet, unless you lock several thousands of people in a facility and only feed them certain foods, from certain purveyors, for a long, long time.

The updates to the guidelines that people are latching on to are as follows:

  • Forget about the cholesterol values in food
  • Drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day
  • Limit your sugar intake
  • Eat less meat

Which are not bad or controversial on their own, but in my opinion they’re still largely missing the mark on WHAT TO EAT overall, period, bottom line. This op-ed piece from The New York Times says it best:

“Last fall, experts on the committee that develops the country’s dietary guidelines acknowledged that they had ditched the low-fat diet. … Several recent meta-analyses have cast serious doubt on whether saturated fats are linked to heart disease, as the dietary guidelines continue to assert. … Cutting fat and cholesterol, as Americans have conscientiously done, may have even worsened our health. … A high-carb diet rich in sugar and refined grains increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease — much more so than a diet high in fat and cholesterol. … Return to what worked better for previous generations: a diet that included fewer grains, less sugar and more animal foods like meat, full-fat dairy and eggs. That would be a decent start.

We like to make things complicated, us humans. We love to overanalyze, leading to paralysis by analysis (there’s so much information out there that, instead of taking action on SOMETHING, we throw up our hands and give up, doing nothing). I think one of the easiest tenets to fall back on in this situation is Michael Pollan’s philosophy:

“Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

How’s that for a set of dietary guidelines? Too open ended? (Do we really think the public at large is reading the full set of guidelines and going out and acting on them in the first place?) We know what to do, but we make it hard on ourselves…we put things in the way…barriers (no time); obstacles (no money). When it really is that simple. Eat what makes you feel good; I stand by the belief that THAT will be what’s good for you. The temporary high of Taco Bell does not often leave you feeling as good, happy, light and energetic as a homemade, healthy, simple meal. Maybe we should just add to Pollan’s Food Rules “And cook them yourself.” I think that just about covers it.

What are your thoughts on the new dietary guidelines? Did you even know there was such a thing? Do you think they do any good? I’d love to hear.

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