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The REAL New Dietary Guidelines

2010 dietary guidelinesThe 2010 Dietary Guidelines are out … the announcement for the updates was made this morning, like it is every 5 years.  And the biggest change in my mind after all the anticipation? 

Eat less salt. 

What else did they suggest?

Focus more on plant based foods, eat less solid fats and sugar, drink less sugary drinks (like soda), and up the whole grains.

Considering someone just left my office with a "7 cans of coke addiction" … we certainly have a long way to go to come anywhere close to meeting these.

Let’s dive in a bit further.

Here are some of the specific summary points from the Guidelines themselves.  I’ll offer my take on the recommendations below.

  • Fat intake: 20% to 35% of total calories
  • Saturated fat: less than 10% of total calories (mono- and polyunsaturated fats may be substituted)
  • Trans-fats: less than 1% of calories
  • Cholesterol: less than 300 mg
  • Fiber: 14 g per 1,000 calories
  • Potassium: 4,700 mg
  • Sodium: less than 1,500 mg for all African Americans and those with hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease (including children), as well as persons older than 51; everyone else is advised to consume under 2,300 mg of sodium a day
  • Fruits and vegetables: at least 2.5 cups
  • Refined grains: less than 3 oz

So the biggest "change" in the Guidelines is to hold the salt … more specifically, if you’re African American, over 51, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or chronic kidney disease hold it to no more than 1500 mg/day.  Or, in English, 1/2 tsp total salt per day (the American Heart Association thinks it should be at this level across the board).  I agree.

According to the 2010 Guidelines, everyone else should stick to the less than 2,300 mg recommendation per day (even though the current average intake is about 3,400 mg).

Nothing tremendously shocking.  We eat and drink too much sugar and solid fat.  Most don’t eat enough veggies, fruit, and fiber.  They did also offer a few more practical Guidelines — my favorite?  Enjoy your food, but eat less. 

Where do I think the Guidelines went wrong?

I think they could get even more specific, though, and speak in "real" terms.  Unless you’re "in the game" and living and breathing nutrition each day, this is all jibberish.  Same with the Pyramid that will be updated and revealed later this year.  People eat off plates, not Pyramids.  Let’s create a "Food Plate" that visually makes sense to people.

People also don’t think about eating calories.  They certainly don’t think about eating nutrients.  People eat foods.

I eat an orange.  I don’t savor vitamin C and bioflavonoids.  I drink milk.  I’m not enjoying a tall glass of calcium.  And I certainly don’t drink sugary beverages.  I have a can of coke (well, I don’t, but you get the point).

So let’s talk in that same language that Americans "get."  Here are the Top 12 Mohr Results Dietary Guidelines — they’re a lot more specific than the Dietary Guidelines and in a language that American’s speak — even though many of them are saying the same thing.

  1. Don’t drink soda.  It’s like pouring toxic sludge down your throat.
  2. Every single meal and snack should contain a vegetable and/or fruit.
  3. Make the majority of your fat intake from liquid sources, like olive and
    canola oil. 
  4. Don’t swear off the fats found naturally in real butter and steak, though. Those are fine in moderation
    (read: as part of a reasonably-sized meal). The real issue isn’t saturated fat itself; it’s the saturated fats you find in processed foods–the stuff you already know is "junk" (like baked goods and candy bars).
  5. Eat fish at least 2 times per week. 
  6. Trans fat will kill you — you get it from eating French fries, many baked goods, pastries, and a lot of other packaged items.  Avoid these.
  7. Throw the salt shaker away.  Seasonings, herbs, and even citrus zest offer a better alternative.
  8. Use divided picnic plates to help with portions — the large section should be filled with veggies and/or fruit, the smaller sections should be reserved for a lean protein and the other for a high fiber whole grain
  9. All carbohydrates you eat should have 3 or more grams of fiber/serving. 
  10. Don’t eat out more times each week that you eat "in" — eating at home is always a better option.  And when you do eat out, ask for a "doggie bag" BEFORE your meal is served at restaurants — it will help cut the portions in half.
  11. If a food turns your fingers or milk another color OR has a cartoon on the package, toss it out if it’s in your house and leave it on the shelf the next time you’re at the grocery store (this "Guideline" excludes colorful fruits and veggies, like berries or pomegranates).
  12. MOVE more and move often.  Never go more than 60 minutes without standing up for your desk and at the very least walking around the office.  In addition, set aside time for structured exercise.
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