Monday, March 23, 2015

What Should I Eat?

What Should I Eat? My first reaction is to say “food”.  But, actually the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health & Human Services has tried to make it easier. Every 5 years they issue Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A new set is due to be released this year. Hearings will be held later in the month, but the new guidelines have recently attracted controversy. More on that later.

Whats a Healthy Diet?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 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.

Other high points:
*Eat mostly food derived from plants – vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. 

*Limit highly processed foods – shop the perimeter of your grocery store

*Consume a variety of food

*Watch portion size & read labels

*Eat more whole grains – “wheat flour” is not “whole wheat flour”

*Eat less refined grains & added sugar

*Enjoy more fish & nuts

*Eat less animal fat which is saturated, and is found in red meat. Choose lean meats, skinless poultry, low or nonfat dairy products.

And Specifically:
*Avoid trans fats found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils – these raises LDL (bad) cholesterol & reduce HDL (healthy) cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.

*Reduce cholesterol consumption to less than 300mg a day. Cholesterol is found ONLY in animal foods such as meat & eggs.

*Reduce sodium intake to less than 1500mg a day, and increase potassium intake

*Watch calcium & Vitamin D intake. 1000-1200mg a day of calcium is recommended.

*Choose food over supplements.

*Watch out for liquid calories and what you eat on the weekend.
The Berkeley Wellness Letter has summarized these into 14 pointers.  Click the link for more detail.

Need Help  in implementing the above? The government website  has hundreds of tips, lesson plans, a dietary tracker, recipes, food plans and more…and its all free.  Log on for a personalized MyPlan geared to your height, weight, weight loss goals and activity level.

What's The Best Diet?  For those who want a more detailed guidelines, US News & World Report ranks many popular diets on a yearly basis.

The government endorsed DASH diet came out tops again for the fifth year. Developed to fight high blood pressure, it received high marks overall, for meeting dietary guidelines and for promoting heart health.

The next four highly rated diets were the TLC, Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean & Weight Watchers. For more details click here, and then click on the details and links you are interested in.

2015 Dietary Guidelines Hearings. As mentioned earlier, hearings for new guidelines are being held soon. You may have also read the the beef industry is upset with the recommendation that consumers eat less red meat due to its saturated fat and - in a first - environmental concerns. The industry isn't taking this very well, and most observers believe this recommendation will be watered down now that the politicians & industry money are involved. Extra hearings have been scheduled as the lobbyists circle.

Why is this important? The Dietary Guidelines - besides advising consumers - are used to set buying criteria for schools and other government supported food programs. Stay tuned and follow the money......

Also in the news  - don't know what to make of the headlines finding arsenic in cheap wines? And what about the fine points on reading the Nutrition Facts you know what is really "low fat", "low sodium", and how to judge whether there's too much sugar in your kids' cereal?   Coming in the next blog post!

Recommended For More Information
Food Rules - Michael Pollan.  A straight forward common sense statement of guidelines to follow for healthier eating.

Forks Over Knives  This 2011 documentary film examines the evidence for a low fat whole food, plant based diet as a means of combating a number of diseases. While some find fault with the methodology of those advocated a plant based diet, the evidence supporting the conclusions is mounting, and worth an examination.

Healthy Eating Plate  Harvard School of Public Health's version of healthy eating plate.  It includes graphics for oils, water, and exercise.

© March, 2015, Fitness Spark Personal Training

No comments:

Post a Comment