USDA Food Pyramid Gets Smarter?
The USDA Food Pyramid is just like "The Little Engine that Could," a childhood story about the little train engine that didn't think it could make it up the big hill. The good folks at USDA just keep trying and trying to get up that hill, but they never quite seem to make it.
This time the USDA seems to be getting smarter. Their "Steps to a Healthier You" and "One size does not fit all" sentiment is great. Finally they aren't pretending we all need the same calories and nutrients, but that's where the "smarts" in this outfit ends.
Check the suggested calories and foods based on your age and activity level. For my age and activity level they recommend 2200 calories (which is about right, if you're active).
What USDA Thinks I Should Eat
- Grains, 7 ounces (dry or cooked, they don't say)
- Vegetables, 3 cups (I eat this or more easily)
- Fruits, 2 cups (ditto. Easy to achieve this)
- Milk, 3 cups (wha...? What about other dairy, and why is milk not in the meat group?)
- Meat & Beans, 6 ounces (seen anyone eat a steak lately? I bet it's bigger than 6 ounces)
I easily eat the required grains, vegetables and fruits. I tend to eat more vegetables if I want to feel fuller (I call it being a vegetable pig, if you must know), and I love fruit for snacks. I eat an apple nearly every day so two cups of fruit a day is easy for me.
What's up With Recommend 3 Cups of Milk a Day?
Can you spell "Dairy Industry Influence?" Presumably this high recommendation is for the calcium, but frankly, you can get calcium from many foods, not just milk. Shouldn't daily be part of the meat category?
Meat & Beans at six ounces is okay, I suppose, but it's low for anyone eating the low carb approach, and high for those eating an oriental diet such as Macrobiotics. Why not suggest how much protein, rather than just generically stating "meat?"
The Oil Diet
Holy cats! I just saw the USDA Pryamid is suggesting six teaspoons of oil a day. What kind of goofball suggestion is that? In "The Mazola Oil Diet" published 1965 they recommend five teaspoons of oil plus two tablespoons margarine a day on their 1500 calorie a day plan. That made sense in their booklet since they were trying to sell Mazola Oil and Mazola margarine.
So what's up with this, Mr. USDA? Six teaspoons of oil? Added? Sheesh, I'd hang my head in shame if I were responsible for that recommendation. This is so obviously influenced by industry it's not funny any more.
Immediately after the ridiculous oil suggestion they state, "Limit your extras (extra fats & sugars) to 290 Calories." Does that include the six teaspoons of oil they've already suggested?. This pyramid is far more confusing than ever.
My suggestion is eat more grains, vegetables and fruits; and don't go out of your way to add extra oil (don't worry you'll be getting plenty anyway), unless it's Udo oil perhaps or similar.
There will never be a list or plan that works for everyone but the USDA Pyramid is a "better than nothing" basic guideline for a starting point.
Remember, the USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture. Nowhere do they say anything about being an organization for the citizens of the US. The USDA is looking out for the best interests of the food industry, not the people who consume those products. Don't be confused.
P.S. The FDA is no better. They are the Food & Drug Administration not the Food & Drug for Healthier People Administration