The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines are due for another overhaul. The current version, called MyPyramid, is what the USDA thinks a healthy diet should look like, and every five years the government reevaluates what being healthy means. Unfortunately lobbyists have traditionally had a hand in what the USDA decides to promote in its healthy dietary formula.
When the meat industry cried over suggested reductions in red meat, to lower intake of saturated fat, the government gave in by changing the wording to the industry’s liking. An article published in the Washington Post states, “The milk lobby has expressed concerns about warnings to cut back on added sugars, lest chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milks fall from favor.”
With obesity ranking as public health problem #1, the Dietary Guidelines are currently under more scrutiny than ever. As the article points out, no one really reads the USDA’s suggestions, but, they have far reaching implications on school lunch programs, nutrition labels of food packages, and education materials that are available in doctors' offices and hospitals.
What is a "Healthy Diet"?
The USDA recommends following their suggestions below:
The Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy diet as one that:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
What if someone is vegetarian or vegan? How do these guidelines account for people that can’t tolerate dairy? At Integrative Nutrition we have adapted the food pyramid into something that we think works for everyone. It depicts a balanced diet of essential nutrients and indicates areas of our life that provide nourishment off our plate as well. This is what we call Primary Food.
How would you improve the USDA’s dietary guidelines?
"What has been done till now isn't working. To do nothing more effective than we have means that five years from now we'll be in an even worse situation. And that would be unconscionable." - Linda Van Horn, chairman of the 2010 dietary guidelines advisory committee, quoted in the Washington Post.