Last week I mentioned the updated dietary guidelines, which our government agencies (US Dept of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services) tweak every 5 years. Touching upon reducing salt intake, as I saw it as the most significant change, I promised to come back and discuss the rest of the changes. As I read them, however, all I can really do is shake my head. The new, updated guidelines suggest we eat less and exercise more. Huh? Is this honestly news? Did it take a full 5 years to come up with THIS? “The guidelines are about controlling calorie intake, increasing the calories you burn by moving more and sitting less, and eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on sodium, sugar and fat,” said Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack.
Basically, what is being suggested as the key components of the guidelines is this: Enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid over-sized portions; make half your plate fruits and vegetables; switch to fat-free or low-fat milk; compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers and drink water instead of sugary drinks. In reading the actual report, however, buried within the documents are statements like this: “Vegetarians generally have a lower body mass index. Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans, peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds;” and Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories.”
In the question and answer session which followed the announcement of the new guidelines the question “Why not cut to the chase and simply say “Eat less meat?” was asked. This question, apparently went unanswered. The government definitely does NOT want to upset the livestock industry. In fact, the way I see it, the government would rather an obese society, that is bankrupting our health-care dollars killing us financially and physically, than to actually upset some of the biggest lobbyist in our country. After all, if we eat too much of the bad stuff, there is always a pill that can be prescribed…Just saying.
My recent blood donation revealed a cholesterol level of 185, Considering my good cholesterol has always been way over the top (thanks to exercise) and our cholesterol tends to increase with age, I am rather comfortable with that number. It was, by the way, up to 201 before I became so veganish. My ratio was very good at 201, but it does prove that we can lower our cholesterol through eating more plant-based foods, despite all the advertisements suggesting that we can simply blame our family for our high cholesterol. We need to know our risk factors, for sure, but we more importantly need to take control of our own health.
Simply put, eat less overall calories, but do fill your plate with veggies, grains, legumes and fruits. Cut the sugar. Get rid of the salt shaker, stay away from the processed crap and drink water instead of sodas and sweetened “juices.”
Eat less, exercise more. We keep reinventing the wheel and come up with the same wheel. It’s not enough to have the wheel, we need to take control and drive! As the band Incubus sang, and I have always agreed, “lately I’m beginning to find that when I drive my light is found…”.Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be here! I hope you will be, too.