In 2005, the USDA issued an updated food pyramid, and created an entire website of clicky-links to peruse in 2011.
Someone even put the two charts side by side for comparison.
First, the new food pyramid recommended exercise, where the old one only suggested what you put in your mouth. Yes, that’s a distinct improvement on overall population health, as there’s more to being a healthy human being than what you shovel in.
Second, the new guide gives recommended amounts, whereas the old food pyramid only listed ‘servings,’ leaving the consumer free to wallow aimlessly through the confusing fine print, tastefully photographed ‘serving suggestion’ graphics, and slick advertising offered by various manufacturers to figure out what an actual ‘serving’ was.
Third, they gave some additional information on what to eat within each category (half of grains should be whole grains, sub-categories of vegetables, limit deep-fried products, etc…), where this was also lacking in the original.
Soooo…baby step improvements…
But for the actual ‘meat & taters’ of the content? Not only am I deeply concerned, but more than a bit frustrated with what the USDA is STILL telling Americans they aught to eat.
this would be the beginning of a mild rant, fair warning…
Take a closer look…
Grains: The recommended daily allowance is 6 oz, with half of that in whole grains. If you dig further, choosemyplate.gov offers further advice:
In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Grains Group.
So – 3 oz of whole grains could be 1 cup cooked cereal (think oatmeal) and 1/2 cup cooked rice. The other three ounces could be 1 cup ready to eat cereal (think cocoa puffs) and 1 cup cooked pasta.
3.5 cups of grains a day – the largest single portion of your intake out of the different food groups.
Milk: This weighs in with the 2nd largest portion of your daily consumption with 3 cups. They further clarify:
Most Dairy Group choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group. Foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, are not.
You wanna know what’s left when you remove the fat content from dairy products? Milk sugars, calcium, and a bit of protein. In other words – carbzilla disguised as a glass of fancy words.
Vegetables: The recommendation is 2.5 daily cups, with the stipulation being to ‘eat a wide variety of different veggies.’ If you dig further into choosemyplate.gov, you’ll see they’ve broken down the veggies into sub-groups: Dark Green, Red & Orange, Beans & Peas, Starchy, and Other.
They spread veggies out further, with suggested weekly intakes within each sub-category…so you get that ‘wide variety’ throughout your week, and additional breakdowns according to age and sex.
The basic ‘ranking’ of veg, from most to least:
Starchy / Red & Orange / Other / Dark Green / Bean & Pea
Starchy is the highest amount throughout your eating week. “Eat more starch!” says the USDA. As in potatoes. As in corn. As in shelled green peas.
As in pure carbs.
Their second category – reds & oranges, contains things like carrots & pumpkin and tomatoes. While these do have some redeeming value – the red & orange list is still, for me, mostly avoided, as these are still sweeter vegetables and can easily turn into carb-bombs.
Fruits: There should be 2 cups of fruit matter on your various plates or in glasses throughout the day.
In general, 1 cup of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group.
Say it with me, folks…fruits=sweet=sugar=carbohydrate.
See a pattern here?
So far – there are 11 cups of various foodstuffs on your plate – with, if I’d hazard a guess, a 95% carbohydrate load. The bits of insoluble fiber, protein & trace elements making up the other 5% has been tossed in there to convince you the USDA actually knows what it’s recommending.
The last two groups, proteins & fats, are laughable in their recommendations. The two groups total get a recommended allowance of roughly 3/4 cup a day…served with a sermon of how horrible fats are for your body, how they ‘hide’ within other foodstuffs, and how you should seek out and account for these sneaky substances before adding any pure fats to your daily intake.
Think about that – protein (ie: what ALL muscle material is made of), limited to 5.5 oz per day (and that meat better be lean, son!) & run screaming from any pure fats.
Still wonder why Americans are getting fatter & sicker???
In short, IF intake recommendations have changed at all from the ones I was force-fed as a child, it’s a turn for the worse. Of the three micronutrient categories, fats are bad – severely limit them. Proteins are only slightly less bad – so limit them, too. Most of your daily intake then has to come from the only remaining category: carbs.
Coming soon – the new USDA Nutritional Guideline Soundbyte:
“When in doubt, sweet & starchy eat out.”
What Keto does is take that food pyramid, and turn it upside down. If the USDA says it’s bad, don’t eat it, Keto says chow down, son! If the USDA recommends you pile that stuff on your plate, Keto suggests you toss it in the bin and EAT BACON.
Being a person who’s subliminally bucked the system for most of my adult life, is it any wonder Keto makes a twisted kind of sense to me?
But here comes the weird part:
That ‘recommended by the USDA,’ carb-heavy, ‘master plan?’ It will work – if you’re EXTREMELY active. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. EVERYONE has, at one point in their life or another, eaten their way straight up the pyramid without deviation, and has been active enough to offset the load of starches in their diet.
The last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I was eating mostly raw foods & breads (read, veggies & starches), managed to maintain a strong Pepsi addiction, and even allowed myself time to socialize at the local bar. (burgers & booze & fries…oh, Myyyyy!) When you live alone without any romantic interests, in a tiny studio apartment that’s easy to keep clean, the gym is an acceptable substitute to having the walls close in around you. I spent 4-5 hours a week swimming laps in the pool when wasn’t out exploring my town on foot.
If you’re going to eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D. yea, I know…a perfect summation!) – you HAVE to keep your body in a near-constant state of movement to prevent ballooning into size 24 pants. While this is perfect for those who have an active job (construction, assembly, service, landscaping, etc…), are socially isolated, or into body-sculpting…this is NOT representative of the majority of citizens living in the States who are either too busy, too tired, or too jaded to keep their asses moving.
As people age, they tend to move out of extremely physical jobs and into more sedentary ones. Over time, people generate a wide circle of friends with backyard BBQ’s, built in kegs & really comfy lounge chairs. They go tailgating with ‘naughty’ cuts of meat, liquid bread (aka: beer) and crunchy starchy things. They pour gallons of pure sugar water (aka: soda) into their over-carbohydrated digestive systems while sitting in front of the computer at work, and spend thousands of recreational dollars in S.A.D. eating establishments, sandwich shops, and sun bathing on pristine beaches.
Most people don’t consider the local gym a second home or have an after-work schedule that prevents the activity needed to support the recommended carb-heavy diet.
Think housework. Think kids. Think quality time with a significant other, an artistic endeavor, or the boob tube and Facebook if you’re missing the disposable income necessary to indulge in recreation.
When real life gets in the way – our dietary guidelines turn from helpful to hell-full.
I want to know why there is only ONE recommended guideline, and everything else is considered fringe, fad, freaky, or just f*ckin’ WRONG.
Why does the USDA insist that the same diet which works for a 20-something who likes to participate in extreme sports will work for the 40-something housewife with 3 kids who spends 6 hours a day in her mini-van shuttling those kids around to their various academic and sporting activities?
And I really want to know WHY society has been programmed to demean that housewife for having a butt the size of Tex-ass?
Well, she’s just lazy and doesn’t deserve buttcheeks you can crack walnuts between…
What happened to body sciences in this country, and where is the quality information this kind of research was developed to distribute?
I suspect its buried in a mountain somewhere – replaced with a useless, flashy graphic and fat-shaming programming.
Finally, I want to know why I’m getting cynical in my old age???