Friday, September 23, 2011

My Son the Harvard Doctor

I don't have a son who's a Harvard doctor (my son's are engineers). But if I did, he would have made me proud with the changes to the USDA food plate or MyPlate. Frankly the biggest problem with the government's MyPlate is politics.

This week Harvard unveiled its version of a healthy eating plate to help consumers make better sense of the government version. Walter Willet, chair of the nutrition department of Harvard School of Public Health felt the government food plate was "a step in the right direction." But the plate contained too much dairy and not enough clarification on protein choices.

Notice the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate replaces the glass of milk on the USDA food plate with water and shows a bottle of healthy oils on the side.

The Politics of Food
MyPlate was developed with bias to the dairy, potato and cattle farmers whose interests are represented by the government, Willet points out. The lack of detail is more intended not to ruffle the feathers of those industries.

Uh uh uh! (wagging index finger back and forth). You know how that gets me going. Since when does politics or making sure your friends are covered have anything to do with providing healthy guidelines for eating?

Seems to me the USDA ought to recuse itself from the business of providing health advice because of its ties to special interests and lobbyists.

Breaking It Down
The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate shows consumers a generally healthy way to assemble a meal—the original intent of the USDA Food Plate. Visuals are important to help you make changes to your diet. Here's the message of the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate:
  • Get plenty of produce
  • Choose whole grains—not bread (e.g., brown and wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, millet)
  • Choose healthy sources of protein (remember protein is also in some vegetables)
  • Use healthy oils (e.g., extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil)
  • Drink water or other beverages that don’t contain sugar
It also suggests limiting consumption of refined grains, potatoes, sweets, sugary beverages, red meat, processed meats, and going easy on milk and juice.

In the MyPlate example, a hamburger or hot dog on a white bread bun with French fries and a milk shake could be part of a MyPlate meal. That's a recipe for disease, points out the Harvard website for the Healthy Eating Plate.

According to research, encouraging the consumption of dairy at each meal, another issue with MyPlate, is not recommended. I avoid all cow dairy because of the issues of factory farming—cows fed GMO feed and hormones, and treated with antibiotics. I prefer goat dairy which is more easily digested, nutrient rich and alkaline forming in the body.

For a break down of healthy diet choices read The Road to Health Comes Down to Diet.

Were you confused by the USDA MyPlate, which replaced the Food Pyramid?


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