Tuesday, January 26, 2016

You're Responsibility Vs. Deep-fried Twinkies....

After what seems like a very long hiatus, I’m back at it. I haven’t abandoned you my Kid Friendly Organic Life people! In fact, one of my New Year’s resolution is to get back to blogging regularly here.

Honest confession – it’s not just that I’ve missed you (I have! I have!), but also my jeans are getting a little tight and there’s just a bit too much white sugar creeping back into my world. My excuses are long and layered, but they amount to nothing more than distraction and laziness
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I have discovered that I write about what I most care about, and lately that has been rescue dogs, fiction writing, and my own navel. Not that those are bad things, but it’s time to turn back to my health. I’m turning 50 this year which is a shock to me. Instead of running from that fact, I’m embracing it and that means getting serious about staying healthy.

We should all be serious about our health. There’s much too much taking-it-for-granted-until-it’s-too-late happening. In honor of that, I thought I’d tackle the NEW nutrition guidelines that have been behind a flurry of redundant filler articles turning up in every news outlet in town
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Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published every 5 years for health professionals in light of the latest and greatest nutrition science. This momentous occurrence just occurred as the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines were published this past fall. If you want to read it in full (it’s long and has many, many tables and appendixes, but it’s very clearly laid out and not too governmenty) click here.

For the rest of us normal people, here’s the shortened version of the guidelines:

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

Okay, um, duh. This guideline basically says – eat healthy food, maintain a healthy body weight no matter your age, and you’ll reduce your risk of chronic disease. Truly – did we not know this?

2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.

Look for nutrient dense food within all food groups. Don’t think just because you chose whole wheat bread, you’re covered. Make healthy choices in terms of dairy, meat, veggies, etc. Again, did we not know this?

    3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.

Pretty much the inverse of number two, but with a reduce sodium jingle thrown in for variety. Don’t eat empty calories. Soda is empty calories. Candy is empty calories. Fried Twinkies are empty calories. (Just in case you weren’t aware.)

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

How many ways can we say the same thing?? Eat intentionally – eat food that packs a nutritional punch. I’m sensing a pattern here. But this chapter also talks about choosing foods that fit with your lifestyle culturally and financially and also foods that your actually like.

5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Now, this guideline I like. This is about taking a little personal responsibility for ALL of us eating well.

Don’t act like it’s normal or even okay for someone to down a 36oz Slurpee, a 2-pound bacon burger, or a deep-fried cheesecake. The cultural acceptance of this kind of eating wreaks havoc on our collective waistline.

As adults, we have a responsibility not to encourage kids to eat so much crap. I’m not the sugar-nazi. I’m not saying never serve junk, but keep it in perspective people! Give kids a little credit, they will eat healthy food when it’s prepared and presented well. I would also like to say – cut out the endless candy/cheesecake/fried food fundraisers that have kids pedaling toxic food.

We can do our part by serving more vegetables and fruits, supporting farmers’ markets, and choosing to spend our money on healthier, more responsibly grown food options. This guideline also has something to say about making healthy food accessible in places like inner cities and making it affordable for economically challenged families.

Yeah. I like guideline five. I’m all about guideline five.

So, like me, are you wondering how much our government spends on developing these redundant, obvious guidelines?

There are no less than 13 very well educated people with plenty of acronyms at the end of their titles listed on the guidelines’ writing staff. I’m more than well aware that writers are often underpaid, but I’m guessing this gang got some serious change for their efforts. There are also, long lists of committee members and policy officials who spent plenty of hours and overtime developing the guidelines. And we know they don’t want for another official paid holiday. So, suffice it to say these guidelines didn’t come cheap.

But do the guidelines make any difference? They’re mandated by the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (Related research? This sounds a bit like a shell company for many pet projects, but I’m sticking to the topic I came here with, so I’ll let it go.). The information in these guidelines will guide more government committees and policy officials as they make even more guidelines to determine what is served in public school cafeterias, supplemented by welfare, and pushed by public service announcement. The guidelines will dictate which grants and programs will get funding and which research will be included in the next budget. The guidelines have the capacity to affect us all in some way or another
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So, back to my original question – will they make any difference?

Maybe.

But the frustrating part is all of this is common sense. And you’d think we wouldn’t need to spend untold millions to tell leaders that their food policies should include healthy affordable options like vegetables, whole grains, healthy fat, fruit, and dairy. We don’t need an entire multi-million dollar guideline to know we shouldn’t be eating or serving sodas, candy, and fast food.

Common sense people. That’s what it comes down to. At the risk of saying, “I told you so,” bloggers like me (and many more who are more literate and learned), have been saying these very same things for years. If they’d only asked us, we could’ve saved them some serious money.


 #2015dietaryguidelines #commonsense #eathealthy 


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