Keeping Up With The Ever Changing World of Nutrition

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MyPlate Everyone knows that America has a huge health problem.  Multiple health problems in fact.  But most seem to stem from the issue that 2/3 of us are overweight or obese.  In response to this issue, our society has asked for a huge push for more health and nutrition information, products and foods in the marketplace.  And the demand for these products and information increases exponentially each year.  Initially this seems like a really good thing – new research, new science, new advice.  But as good as this is, all this new information can actually be part of the problem.  Here’s why.

DietaryGuidelines

There is so much information out there, so many new products and types of foods, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with everything.  I even have trouble and this is my area of interest!  And a lot of blame is put on this fact – there’s just too much information and it changes way too often to keep up and understand.  So how is the average American supposed to find, understand and implement all of the new information and changes?

Well here’s the thing.  In reality, no much has actually changed when it comes to nutrition guidance.  Especially the recommendations put out by the government.  So there’s not reason to get overwhelmed.  See that 2nd picture (sorry for the blurriness – iPhone picture)?  Those are the dietary guidelines from 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995.  The dietary guidelines are the set of nutrition guidelines or advice created for the public by the government every 5 years.  (The next set is due to come out in 2015.)  And if you look closely, you can see that those 7 guidelines are the same throughout all those years.  And there still the same today.
FoodPyramid2

And no, I don’t collect old government documents.  I was just lucky enough to read each of these documents and many more when I was interning at the Center For Nutrition Policy and Promotion (under the USDA) for my internship.  This is the office that put out the food pyramid and now MyPlate (see first picture) in addition to the dietary guidelines.  They had some really cool stuff archived!  Did you know originally there were only 4 food groups, and not 5?  And the first visualization of these groups was a big circle and not a pyramid.  Anyone remember that?  I don’t.

And although there have been some changes – we no longer have a pyramid or circle, we got a plate – the basics of nutrition science and information has been the same for over 30 years.  These basic guidelines have stood tried and true for a while now and are still the best way to lead and live a healthy lifestyle.  If you’re not familiar with these guidelines, you can check them online by clicking here or just read them here.

Build a healthy plate

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to skim or 1% milk.
  • Make at least half your grains whole.
  • Vary your protein food choices.
  • Keep your food safe to eat – learn more at www.FoodSafety.gov.

Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt

Eat the right amount of calories for you

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options.
  • Write down what you eat to keep track of how much you eat.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly – limit to 1 drink a day for women or to 2 drinks a day for men.

Be physically active your way

These are the most basic principles of health and nutrition.  Although the world of nutrition is ever-changing, you should always stick to these guidelines.  When new research comes out, feel free to incorporate it into your lifestyle, but make sure you’re still sticking to these core guidelines.  If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to great nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

You tell me!  Do you remember the food pyramid?  Do you like the pyramid or the MyPlate icon better?  What’s your best tip for staying on top of the changing nutrition information?

 

3 Comments

  1. The Candid RD

    March 10, 2013 at 7:44 am

    GREAT post! The toughest part of my job (and most fun, really) is keeping up with the dynamic world of nutrition. It’s so hard, but the challenge is worth it 🙂

  2. Jad @ New South Food Co.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I think the new Myplate does a much better job than the pyramid of showing how you should eat. It should be a balance hence the circle plate. One issue I have is that they still do not address the obvious. The amount of additives and preservatives in foods. If you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. Plain and simple. When my kids want “junk” food I ask them to read of the ingredients and if they know and can pronounce each food then they can have it. They never can and then I direct them to healthier options and ask them to do the same.

    • mewinebrenner

      April 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      I agree – you definitely should be limiting those processed foods. I always look for 5 ingredients or less on the label and make sure I can pronounce them! It’s great that you’re getting your kids involved too – great education.

      MyPlate does touch a little on processed foods and ingredients on their website – http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Check it out for some good information – oh and they just posted some fun kids pages too!

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