New Dietary Guidelines – Who Knew?!

NewsUpdate6As if there weren’t enough people in the world telling you what to eat – you’ve got your parents, you’ve got us… A few days ago, a panel of top nutrition experts submitted their report to the federal government, describing changes that they think would benefit the average American diet. Wait, what?! A group telling the government how they think I should eat – wait, what?! Well just hold your horses if this is the kind of thing that distresses you. These folks are no joke when it comes to nutrition recommendations.

The panel includes Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health; Marian Neuhauser of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA; and Alice Lichtenstein, the vice chairwoman of the dietary guidelines committee and a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University. This is no group of average know-it-alls. When it comes to nutrition, they may actually know-it-all, or at least know that which is already known… The panel took a look at previous nutrition guidelines, pulled them apart, took in all the most recent research and the latest medical findings and you know what they want you to do? Eat more vegetables.

Yep. Eat your veggies people, and not so much of the other stuff, especially red meat, processed meat, and sugar. All that fretting about coffee? Keep your consumption in check and it might actually be good for you. All that worry about cholesterol? Again, stay out of the deep fat fryer and you’re probably just fine. But red meat, processed meat and sugar… yeah.

For the first time this committee looked not at particular nutrients (i.e. Vitamin D) but looked at the benefits and detriments of whole diets. Looking across your days, weeks, and months – what are you eating the most of? They’d suggest veggies, fruits, whole grains as a big part of that answer. Legumes, nuts and seafood also feature heavily as does lower fat dairy (why lower fat if the whole cholesterol thing is not an issue, but I won’t quibble as I don’t eat it). That’s a lot of really good things to eat if you ask me. I think I could live that way. Wait, I think I do mostly live that way. And for me, and I suspect for many other people, it is the mostly that matters here.

Changing the way we eat is often a question of shifting our ratios. Seeing a positive change in eating habits as an act of deprivation is a sure-fire way to experience a great deal of failure and frustration in my experience. Seeing a positive change in eating habits as a shifting of percentages (lowering meat and raising veggies) or as the opportunity to experiment with abundant foods that are new and exciting, now that’s something that motivates, and something that has a better shot of sticking. Here at the pantry we’ve never claimed to have a corner on the market of dietary advice. There are lots of good ways to go about improving the quality of what you eat and improving your health. When you line up all of that expert advice and look for commonality, it starts to look a lot like these recommendations from these very prominent physicians, which oddly enough also sounds a lot like our friend Michael Pollan (Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual): “Eat real food, mostly vegetables, not too much.”

If you’re inspired to get things going, feeling like just maybe you could feel better, we’d really be happy to help (see our E-Book: Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals for details). We’ve thought a lot about food. Actually, we’ve thought an embarrassing amount about food. We’ve changed, and are still changing. You can too, if you want. The great thing about it is you get at least three chances every day to try to get it right. Eat well, be well friends!

More about the panel and their findings here and here.

An E-Book for Real People about Real Food

Normally I would be posting a meal plan today, but frankly my meal plan is all over the place. As so many of you are, we are entering an extended period of celebrating. The hitch for us is that we’ve been under siege of illness for over 2 weeks now. It looks like we’re nearly done, but many of our guests are iffy.  We’ve admitted to ourselves that a certain amount of flexibility is going to be required in the days to come. My larder is full of a variety of options and we’re just going to roll with it.

With that said, we fully intend to roll with it in style because we have a big reason to celebrate around here. A few years ago Bigg Sis and I started this whole crazy blog business as a way to get some practice writing, to write together and to each other, and to begin to consider how we could write a book that would help regular folks improve their health by eating real food. And at long last, we have reached that goal.

Our e-book, Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individualsis a labor of love, of effort, of humor, of cooperation, of irritation, and most of all of Bigg Sis’ dogged and relentless determination. We are so delighted to share our own food journeys with all of you and hope that you can find some inspiration, so guidance, some advice, some help, and the occasional laugh while you construct your own path. The book is based on our Baby Steps series from the blog, with expanded explanations, examples and stories. If you are ready for a change or if you know someone who is ready (or almost ready) for a change, check it out. What better time than the present to give the gift of better health in easy realistic steps from hilarious (okay, nice and amusing) sisters?

While you contemplate that, I’m sitting on the couch, big dog at my side, next to the glow of the lit Christmas tree taking this last little opportunity to rest before I finally get to see my sister again. We’ll start our holiday celebration feeding our families together, singing a bit, cooking a bit, taking a walk or two and laughing laughing laughing. I can’t wait. Here’s hoping your holidays are whatever you need them to be, that your company is warm and caring, and that your meals are delicious and satisfying. Eat well, be well friends.