I have to admit, I’m a bit fed up with so many dietary guidelines. Pyramids for kids, pyramids for adults, pyramids for my cats. The food in these pyramids gets moved around, and I can’t find anything anymore! If I combine the meat from the top, bread from the middle and tomatoes from the bottom, shouldn’t I be eating a lot of hamburgers? But what does it really matter, when most Americans don’t follow dietary guidelines? Perhaps if they did our obesity rates would not be growing.
Every five years the Dietary Recommendations get revised and updated, and every five years all hell breaks loose. Here we are again with the 2015 version. Although recommendations haven’t changed that much over the years, I personally prefer the 1980’s version of “avoid too much of…”
Go ahead and read the report for yourself. It has a great layout and graphic design, although hard to navigate. But what is going on within the words? What are some of the nutrition experts saying?
One analysis comes from Marion Nestle of Food Politics (a woman after my own heart!). She is a writer and speaker, and a peer reviewer of the earlier versions of the guidelines. Basically she feels the guidelines are good because it emphasizes foods and eating patterns as opposed to food groups and nutrients. However, she also feels it missed the mark and pussyfooted around. She says the reason is, yes, politics. (See my blog title!)
“So let’s count the 2015 Guidelines as a win for the meat, sugary drink, processed, and junk food industries.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest also sites political meddling. And I’m not talking about the fact that this report is written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. They talk about the beef and other food industries meddling in Congress.
The third perspective is from David Katz, MD. It is an excellent read, and gives some insight into the “political adulteration of the excellent work of scientists”. In a nutshell, he recommends ignoring “the DGs, and turn to the DGAC Report for guidance instead. It is accessible to you, and it is about you- not the wealth of Congressional cronies.”
It’s no mystery to me that politics influence so many guidelines, from dietary to vaccinations. I’ve been writing about it for 6 years and it hasn’t changed a bit. As for myself, I take the research and translate it as best I can, taking it into my own personal habits and lifestyle. It boils down to this:
- Regular exercise, fun and challenges
- Balanced nutrition of fresh, unprocessed foods, moderation with “bad” foods
- Emotional connection with friends and family