The new government-issued Dietary Guidelines were released about two weeks ago, so I'm sure by now everyone has figured out exactly what they should be eating to get super-healthy, and - more importantly - what to avoid. If you have figured it out, can you please let me know whether or not I'm allowed to eat bacon. This is important people!
For those who are still a little confused (and I'm guessing that's all of us) here are the guidelines in summary:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
- Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
- Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.
I don't know about you, but that didn't help me at all. I have been 'into' health and fitness for almost thirty years and I have no clue what "a healthy eating pattern" is. I'm also fuzzy on "an appropriate calorie level" and "nutrient adequacy", and that's all just in guideline number one..
I could go on, but rather than confuse you more than you're already confused, I thought I'd use my caffeine-riddled brain (coffee is now good for you, allegedly) to pull these guidelines apart and give you the highlights:
- Men can now drink twice as much alcohol as women. I'm buying 'his and hers' wine glasses: you'll know mine because it's much bigger than yours.
- Soy Milk is milk, which makes it a dairy product, while Almond Milk and Coconut Milk are not milk at all. They're either plants or nuts cleverly disguised as milk. Either way you can eat them. Or drink them.
- You can eat as many eggs as you like because there is no longer a limit of 300 mg of cholesterol per day. However, the report also states that we should "eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible". So that cleared that up nicely.
- Men should eat less protein. I can't think of a scientific reason for this. Maybe red meat makes men grow beards (you do see a lot of them around these days) and someone took umbrage. Either way, that's the rule for the next five years whether you like it or not.
- Fewer burgers, pizzas and tacos. It's something to do with saturated fat, which as we all know we have no need for after the age of two (really). So enjoy your pizza vicariously through your toddler (liquefied in a zippy cup).
- Eat more vegetables and fruits and shellfish and eggs and nuts and avocados and seeds and even whole grains. Duh. If it looks like something our parents and grandparents used to call 'food', eat it.
- Eat less sugar. And when I say 'less' I mean a lot less. Like hardly any. Think of it this way: if you eat a lot of sugar you'll die really soon. If you don't eat any you'll still be around when we colonize Mars (the planet).
So there you have it. But what of the bacon question I hear you ask? I'm going to pour myself a small carafe of wine and give it some thought.