Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Plate is In, Food Pyramid is Out (June 2011)

This past week the USDA replaced the decades old Food Pyramid with the stylish, new MyPlate interactive icon.

Much has already been written by supporters and critics alike, so I’ll refrain from repeating much of it.  Instead, I’ll link you over to a very nice post by Dr. Andrew Weil which pretty much sums it all up.

I have been following these suggestions for over a year and a half now.  I formulated my own nutrition plan after reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense Of Food.  I have lost thirty five pounds (and kept them off) by changing my eating habits and remaining disciplined about my food choices.

Here are a few tips:

1.  Stop drinking soda.  Avoid vitamin and flavored waters, too.  Their dangers, as highlighted in this blog post from Dr. Mercola, can be even worse than soda!  Don’t substitute fruit juice, either.    Just drink plain waterIf you change nothing else, you will lose weight and improve your heart health just by giving up empty, nutrient-deficient, fattening liquid calories. 

2.  Don’t buy any product containing high fructose corn syrup.  See my prior post on its dangers.  You can always find another product that does not contain HFCS if you take the time to read the ingredients line on labels.  It won’t taste as sweet, so you need to remember that as your taste buds get used to a life without HFCS.

3.  Eat whole fruit instead of sweetened snacks. After you have weaned yourself off the overly sweetened HFCS snacks, you’ll begin to appreciate the natural sweetness of fresh fruit.  When eaten whole, the fruit’s natural fiber will slow the fructose absorption into your blood stream.  You will receive the benefit of the energy boost without the sugar rush and accompanying crash.  The added benefits of eating fruit are far too numerous to list here.

4.  Eat more vegetables. Whenever you can find fresh vegetables, buy them.  Clean them and heat them with a pat of olive oil butter in a Glad steamer bag.  Stir fry them.  Bake them.  Add them to whole grain pastas.  Mix up salads.  The more colors, the better.  Veggies elevate good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides.  The benefits of their nutrients are also too numerous to list here.

5.  Cook your own meals.  If you shop right and plan your meals, it takes no longer to make a meal from scratch than heat up an over-salted, over-fattened, over-sweetened factory-prepared meal.  In the time it takes me to bake a chicken breast, I can peel, boil, and mash a pot of sweet potatoes and cut and steam a head of broccoli.  I control what is added and the portion size.  As an added bonus, it’s cheaper when feeding more than one person.

It’s a big step forward for our government to acknowledge the flaws of the old food pyramid and offer a better informed, easier to visualize graphic for healthy eating.  It could have gone further in distinguishing between whole fruit and fruit juices, and whole grains and processed grains.  Overall, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Now if we can only get the government to stop subsidizing corn, remove the tariff on cane sugar, and force food processors to pay the true cost to society for poisoning us with HFCS, it might become easier to always make the right food choice…

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