As many of you may already know, the USDA has recently updated their Dietary Guidelines for Americans for 2010 and have built them selves a new pyramid to show off which was released on June 15th. With vegetarian-friendliness and a new approach towards things, they may just be well on their way to making more conscious eaters out of Americans.
The United States Department of Agriculture has been referred to by other reviews as going about the new guidelines in a Michael Pollan manner, referring to his famous mantra “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. The aim of the new guidelines are aimed to help reduce the level of junk we eat and to drive us towards eating healthier. After all, over a third of America has been rated obese and even more have been called “over weight”. But what do you expect from a diet that consist of mostly pizzas, soda’s, and fast food joints. I do not hear a single green item in either of those choices (and no, green peppers on your pizza are not enough).
So how has the USDA’s new guidelines changed? Well, they are aiming for nutrient dense foods, and less fats and sugars in diets . They even lowered our sodium allowance by a third (from 2300mg a day to 1500mg a day). They are also instituting more whole grains and have changed from “servings” to “cups and ounces” (something we can relate to better). They also have someone climbing stairs on their new pyramid, which i think is their way of promoting exercise (creative!)
“There are new vegetable sub-categories now too, so you can’t just count your MickeyD’s hashbrown and tomato ketchup as a day’s worth of veggies.” -No Meat Athletes”-
Though they are going in the right direction, I see a problem with this new pyramid: They are recommending processed foods. Well…not directly. The base of the pyramid is low-fat foods, which in turn leads to less whole milks and more of those processed low or non-fat milks. This is a step in the right direction and is hopefully going to help Americans become more conscious about what they eat, but at the same time I also believe that nutrient dense, natural foods are where we need to turn.
The food pyramid has two different sections in it that are dedicated to animal-based foods and proteins and such (milk and meat& bean section), but the USDA also recognizes vegetarianism can have to potential of being adequate in nutrients! But it also states that the main source of this protein is processed soy such as tofu and soy milk. Once again I go back to that fact that I believe there is more to protein than just soy and beans. There are quite a few grains that involve protein, my favorite being quinoa (it is a complete protein and has all 8 essential amino acids!). There are also plant proteins like avocado and edaname (soy before they chop it up and process it).
So even though they still have a long way to go, the USDA is working hard to make a good and functioning dietary guideline standard that fit’s the diet of everyone (including vegetarians and vegans)
See the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm .
-Andrew D. Morrison-