Wow! I read an article today backed by the US Government that I could actually agree with.
Color me surprised.
Basically, the article was written about the newly published dietary guidelines. But some interesting snippets I particularly enjoyed:
- After a backlash from the meat industry and Congress, the administration ignored several suggestions from a February report by an advisory committee of doctors and nutrition experts. That panel suggested calling for an environmentally friendly diet lower in red and processed meats and de-emphasized lean meats in its list of proteins that are part of a healthy diet. But as in the previous years, the government still says lean meats are part of a healthy eating pattern.
- While lean meats are promoted, the government does suggest certain populations, such as teen boys and adult men, should reduce their meat intake and eat more vegetables. Data included in the report shows that males ages 14 to 70 consume more than recommended amounts of meat, eggs and poultry, while women are more in line with advised amounts.
- Guidelines always have been subject to intense lobbying by food industries, but this year's version set off unprecedented political debate, fueled by Republicans' claims the Obama administration has gone too far in telling people what to eat. Congress got involved, encouraging the administration to drop the recommendations based on environmental impact and at one point proposing to set new standards for the science the guidelines can use. That language did not become law, however. A year-end spending bill simply said the guidelines must be "based on significant scientific agreement" and "limited in scope to nutritional and dietary information."
Before I can move on from these snippets, I just have to say: it never ceases to amaze me what corporations will do. Though I shouldn't' be shocked that lobbyists pressed for an inclusion of more red and processed meats into these guidelines, I'm glad the ones in charge stuck to their guns. The simple reality is, Americans do eat too much meat overall, and we certainly don't need as much red and processed meat as we get. So I'm thrilled to see the verbiage dropped any reference to meat beyond "lean meats are part of a healthy eating pattern".
Beyond the more amazing facts above, these basics left me feeling ... "aaaahhhh".
- Released every five years, the guidelines are intended to help Americans prevent disease and obesity... the main message hasn't changed much over the years: Eat your fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and seafood, too. And keep sugar, fats and salt in moderation.
- One new recommendation is that added sugar should be 10 percent of daily calories. That's about 200 calories a day, or about the amount in one 16-ounce sugary drink. The recommendation is part of a larger push to help consumers isolate added sugars from naturally occurring ones like those in fruit and milk. Added sugars generally add empty calories to the diet. Sugar-sweetened beverages make up a large portion of those empty calories. According to the guidelines, sugary drinks comprise 47 percent of the added sugars that Americans eat every day.
- "Small changes can add up to big differences," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Finally, some realistic guidelines for how to shape your daily diet. This, I approve!
***(Want some additional help in shaping your daily eating patterns? Check out this "Healthy Eating Plate", published by the Harvard Medical School.)***