Optical illusions are intriguing as we struggle to see past the illusion to reality. Oh my, a metaphor for life.
I grew up on illusions. I was a child of the 50’s when Father Knows Best gave us the illusion of what life was like in other households, mothers were totally satisfied with their roles as wives and mothers, girls didn’t play sports or want to drive trucks, martini lunches did not equal alcoholism, doctors were gods who knew everything about your health and nutrition, the government was integrity based and put their constituents’ needs first and corporations had their customers and employees best interests at heart; Illusions.
I am grateful to have been a member of the generation that questioned it all. Now I continue along that vein by questioning the USDA’s illusion that their new version of the food pyramid is the answer to this country’s populations’ nutritional needs. It’s an improvement over their last version, but it is still obvious that they are holding hands with the food corporations who want to make a lot of money using cheap ingredients. So, let’s take it one ‘food group’ at a time.
Fruit: According to USDA fruits canned, frozen, fresh or dried and 100% fruit juice is considered a fruit. So, you can get your entire day’s fruit by slugging down juice instead of eating the whole fruit. Several pages into the fruit section I found that they recommended eating most of your fruit servings as whole fruit rather than juice … several pages in! Fill your plate half full with fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables: Interestingly green lima beans and black-eyed peas are categorized as a starchy vegetable if fresh and a bean/legume/pea if dried. Similarly corn is a vegetable if fresh, a grain if dried according to the USDA. I find this a bit baffling since they don’t consider dried fruit anything but dried fruit. Iceberg lettuce is on the list even though it has almost zero nutritional value … go ahead fill your plate half full with iceberg lettuce.
As an aside, there’s a section on Beans and Peas being a unique food in that you categorize them according to your eating habits … true! If you eat meat, the amount of beans over the recommended amount of protein is counted as a vegetable; if you don’t eat meat, count them as a protein until you meet the protein requirement then count the remainder as a vegetable … is there an app for that?
Grains: One quarter of your plate, maybe a little more, should be grains. A half of that should be whole grains. Apparently the rest can be crap.
Protein: This category states ‘lean’ in every area but also includes deli and luncheon meats … I wonder why? Wouldn’t it be okay to leave that out since turkey in the deli department pretty much says turkey? Again, hand holding with the food companies maybe? Beans and legumes are listed here also, again with the link to the ‘unique food’ info. Interestingly, the one thing that’s missing is dairy … oh wait, that’s because Dairy is its own food group!
Dairy: Beans are unique and have a place in two areas and their own link to more information but dairy is considered its own food group? Dairy isn’t a food group, it’s a food choice. That choice should be under Protein or Fats. Nowhere is it more obvious than here that the dairy industry is in bed with the overseer.
It would take someone with a computer and some serious desire to navigate this new attempt to ‘advise’ Americans on what/how to eat a nutritious meal. Some of the population that needs the guidance the most doesn’t have easy access to technology.
Now, in an attempt to irritate the magicians, I will explode this illusion of good nutrition with the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Notice that it says, “mostly” not only. You can eat healthy and enjoy your favorites … In his book, “Food Rules” he lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely. Its 64 pages will guide you to sensible choices.
Don’t want to wade through the confusion? That’s a good reason to hire a health coach! They can support you in discovering what works for your lifestyle. For more information, or for a free health consultation, visit my website.