The pyramid is now a plate! Earlier this month the USDA came out with their new ChooseMyPlate image and dietary guidelines, replacing the Food Pyramid that had its own problems, as I discussed here. The plate took several years and $4 million to create – yet it resembles a TV dinner with its four compartments and is supposed to be easier for Americans to understand – because well, we eat off a plate and not off a pyramid.
At first glance it’s nice to see that they have half the plate as fruits and vegetables, and the vege section is a bit larger than the fruits. But that was just a glance. It’s interesting that they have protein as its own piece of the pie because protein is not a food, it’s a nutrient. Then off to the side in a nice circle oddly resembling a glass of milk is the dairy section. That gets special attention. They note that the dairy is for calcium and that’s really what that circle is for but if that’s really the case then why not just put calcium there – that’s a nutrient, just like protein. Ah – the dairy industry is getting some special attention.
Breaking this plate apart further, they recommend that dairy be either low-fat or fat-free. Sure, a lot of saturated fat from dairy can be harmful to some people, but the dairy fats are necessary for every healthy person, some more than others. Kids particularly need a good amount of saturated fats for their nervous and hormonal systems, and the fats are necessary for metabolism of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. But this “Dairy” piece is even more nauseating because they included calcium-fortified soymilk in the group, but they don’t include cream cheese or butter because there is no calcium. Huh? That’s dairy. Soymilk should never be consumed due to the estrogen-mimicking properties it contains due to the soy processing. Milk, (oh, I mean calcium), continues to be the rave of the USDA and most physicians still push it like crack in downtown Detroit; it is clearly an industry financed incentive. I don’t see any dark green leafy vegetables on their list for calcium. I guess the kale, spinach, and collard greens didn’t have the cash to get their own piece on the plate – they’re all very high in calcium though. Oranges and almonds have calcium too.
The Protein section recommends processed soy, which not only is suggesting adverse hormonal effects, but MSG too. (Maybe MSG should have its own sliver of the plate?) Nuts and seeds, which are fats, are in this group too. Hey – where are the fats anyway? Someone forgot them. Beans are here too in the protein section – even though they’re carbohydrates.
The Grain group at least recognizes that there are whole grains and refined grains, so that’s a plus. But then it’s heavy into recommending whole wheat products, something most people need very little, if any of. Many cereals, such as Lucky Charms and most of the obvious kid-marketed brands call themselves “whole grain” because they started with a whole grain as an ingredient – way, way, way back at the beginning. Even if you’re not one of the approximately 18% of the population who is allergic to gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and some oats), eating gluten is often not necessary. When is it okay to have some if your body can tolerate it? – after intense or prolonged (2+ hours) physical activity. Otherwise, stay away from gluten containing carbohydrates (grains).
The Vegetable section includes a little bit of everything. The veges you should be eating a lot of (dark greens, avocados, colorful peppers) as well as ones you shouldn’t be eating much of (corn and potatoes). Corn and potatoes are starches and should be in the grain group but you’ll find them here, next to carrots and kale. Beans are here too, I don’t know why. But they are, and they’re in the protein section too. And I’m still looking for healthy oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
Let’s finish off this disaster with the Fruit group. Ideally, most should only be consuming 2-3 servings of fruit a day, not roughly ¼ of your daily plate. The USDA though says whether they’re canned, dried, or fresh – all the same. Nice. Juice is here too, yeah kids. I’m surprised Gatorade isn’t somewhere in here – maybe with the next revision.
The message here is clear and hopefully you won’t pay any attention to this plate. It’s a recipe for low energy, inflammation, overall poor health, and disease. I’d love to see this plate be replaced with a large cylinder and called MyTrashCan. And I’ve given up looking for olive oil and other healthy fats.
The DRGPlate – it’s approximately 90% organic and roughly 1/4 vegetables (not corn or potatoes), 1/4 protein (eggs from my own hens, hormone free meats, MSG-free whey protein, raw cow milk, whole milk organic yogurt), 1/4 fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, butter, coconut oil, cheese), 1/8 fruit (nuthin’ canned), and 1/8 grains (quinoa, oats, rice, buckwheat, some corn and potatoes). Then I sprinkle my plate with some good treats like organic dark chocolate and some honey-sweetened goodies and finally smash that ridiculous glass of milk and replace it with something my body is 2/3 of – water.