Official Dietary Guidelines Taken to Task
For decades, the government-designed food pyramid was the standard of healthy eating. At least that’s what public schoolchildren learned. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s now-defunct nutritional guide placed bread, cereal, rice, and pasta at the base of the pyramid. It recommended a whopping 6-11 servings per day of these “staple” items. It also urged daily consumption of milk and dairy products while discouraging eggs and fatty foods.
Well, the food pyramid did nothing to halt the rise in obesity and diabetes. And it didn’t slow the growth of any other negative health affects of poor diets. It may have even contributed to it by promoting the overconsumption of carbs. Many of the government’s longstanding dietary guidelines are now widely regarded as misguided. Especially by proponents of low-carbohydrate diets.
We now know that milk isn’t such a healthy choice. Dietary fats, once the villain, are now understood as an essential part of a balanced diet—at least in moderation. Even high-cholesterol foods like eggs can be healthy. It turns out there’s very little connection between the kind of cholesterol found in eggs and any heightened risk of heart disease.
Eggs Aren’t So Bad for You After All
Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issues a new report on dietary guidelines. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for America is coming soon.
Inside, you can expect the government to reverse itself on several of its healthy eating tips. A so-called My Plate graphic replaced the Food Pyramid in 2011. And this year, a government commission backtracked decades of warnings about eating foods high in cholesterol, such as protein-rich eggs. It also admitted that moderate coffee and alcohol drinking are associated more with health benefits than health harms.
The 2010 Guidelines recommend that Americans consume no more than 300 mg per day of cholesterol (which would be exceeded by eating just two large eggs). There are a number of problems with this particular recommendation and the recommended intake figures in general. For one, the latest studies show that cholesterol in itself doesn’t cause heart disease. Rather, “bad” cholesterol buildup can be caused by a host of dietary and lifestyle factors. Genetics also play a role.
Dietary Advice from the Government
Should Be Taken with a Grain of Salt
When it comes to cholesterol, there is no one-size-fitsall number to guarantee your health. Your age, height, level of physical activity, and genes all impact what is optimal for you. That’s true of cholesterol levels. It’s true of what foods you should eat, too. Following a customized meal plan from a nutritionist makes a whole lot more sense than going off flawed, one-sizefits- all government guidelines.
The new Dietary Guidelines are loaded with political bias and ulterior motives. For the first time, the government is giving nutritional advice to Americans explicitly based on “sustainability” and other environmental concerns.
Push Anti-Meat Agenda
The Wall Street Journal (February 20, 2015) reported, “A panel of nutrition experts recruited by the Obama administration to help craft
the next set of guidelines, to be issued this year, said in long-awaited recommendations Thursday that the government should consider the environment when deciding what people should eat.”
That’s right, the government’s nutritional advice will now be skewed to favor foods that have lower carbon footprints. That translates into the recommendation that Americans eat less beef. (Hamburgers have a large carbon footprint, don’t you know?)
Opting for a petite sirloin when you dine out instead of a huge porterhouse steak isn’t necessarily a bad move. And eating fish at least as often as you eat beef isn’t a bad idea, either. But there’s no reason to avoid beef altogether. Not from a health standpoint, anyway.
Anyone who gives up meat entirely and goes full vegetarian loses out on many important nutrients. Some things you can get from meat you just can’t get anywhere else. But vegetarianism serves environmentalist aims. That means you can count on the government to encourage vegetarian diets in the years ahead.
The incursion of explicit environmentalist agendas into the government’s Dietary Guidelines is new. Government nutritional advice being biased by political pressures is not.
“Unfortunately for all of us, the government’s dietary advice is subject to pressure from lobbying. As you might guess, every purveyor of food and drink wants the feds to advise Americans to consume more of what they produce – or at least not less of it,” writes health columnist Jill
Richardson. “Often, the government omplies.”
Millions of Schoolchildren
Revolt Against Obama Lunches
While the government can’t force you as an individual to heed its politicized Dietary Guidelines, these guidelines could be the basis for future “sin taxes.” Or outright bans on foods deemed unhealthy or bad for the environment.
In the meantime, federal officials are determining what public school cafeterias serve up to millions of captiveschoolchildren. Calorie counts. Portion sizes. Zerotolerance for things like white bread and trans fats. The feds want a say in all. And it’s hamstringing school cafeterias across the country. All thanks to Michelle Obama’s National School Lunch standards.
Students have been protesting the strange, unappetizing concoctions they are being served per the federal rules. (School districts that refuse to abide by them lose federal funding.) In school cafeterias across the country, unwanted vegetables and barely edible whole-grain enchiladas fill up
trash cans. Many frustrated students are uploading photos of their yucky lunches to social media, using the sarcastic hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama.
The Government Accountability Office’s own audit of the school lunch standards found that 48 out of 50 states are having trouble complying with Mrs. Obama’s rules. Students face higher lunch costs and diminished options. Many turn to vending machines or forgo lunch entirely – neither of which are healthy alternatives.
If you have kids who attend public schools, you may need to pack them sack lunches that contain foods they will actually eat. There are plenty of tasty ways for kids to get the nutrients they need – sometimes it’s just a matter of working with their particular tastes and being creative.