The federal government released a draft of its 2010 dietary guidelines yesterday. Warning that obesity is “the single greatest threat to public health in this century”, an expert panel laid out these basic recommendations, as summarized by USA Today:
•Reduce excess weight and obesity by cutting calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
•Shift to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and eat only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.
•Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats, which contribute about 35% of the calories in the American diet. Cut sodium intake gradually to 1,500 milligrams a day and lower intake of refined grains, especially those with added sugar, solid fat and sodium.
•Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Sounds familiar? It’s pretty much what dietary experts have been saying since 1980, and obesity’s gone through the roof. Marion Nestle opined on The Atlantic’s food page:
The main difference seems to be the way the evidence was judged and in some of the details: the target for saturated fat is 7 percent and for sodium a gradual reduction to 1500 milligrams per day.
If so, that’s a lot of trouble to go through to get to basically the same place. I summarized that place in What to Eat as “Eat less, move more, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and don’t eat too much junk food.” Michael Pollen did it even more succinctly: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
I like Nestle and Pollen’s boiling down of the guidelines into simple mantras. I actually think about Pollen’s words occasionally when I shop at the supermarket or sort out the week’s meals at our house.
So can you do better?
How would you boil down healthy living and eating to a short reminder?