I am sure my mom lost mine (because she sure didn’t give it to me when I left home)! It would have been a handy thing to have for all these years for sure! As with any user manual, it is always better (and more fun) to review it and keep up the maintenance of your equipment before it breaks down. The one section you do not want to find yourself reading in the human body user manual is the trouble shooting section (that can never be good thing)! But by human nature that is exactly what we do, we wait until something goes wrong and then we head down to the shop to get fixed up.
Well, it is not exactly a user manual, but every 5 years the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) produces the Dietary Guidelines for Americans report to the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Humans Services. The 2010 report is a glorious 600 page report on how messed up the American diet currently is and what we should be eating (I am joking here, kind of). I am currently in the middle of reading the report and there is a lot of good stuff. I was so excited I thought I would share some of the juicy stuff with you (but don’t you worry, there will more posts to come from this report).
In the cover letter of the DGAC report, it states that we have a “obesity epidemic”. Here is an excerpt from the cover letter:
“The single most sobering aspect of this Report is the recognition that we are addressing an overweight and obese American population. Across all age, gender and ethnic groups, it is clear that urgent and systems-wide efforts are needed to address America’s obesity epidemic as top priority.”
Wow, that sounds really bad! Here is a link to the Executive Summary of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is only 10 pages and I think it is worth the time to read. But just for fun I will share some of my favorite parts:
So most of us are overweight and undernourished, how can that be?
Oh I see we aren’t eating enough of what our bodies actually need and eating too much of what our bodies don’t need. Great so how do we fix it?
“Reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity of the US population by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity. “
OK so eat less calories and move more, got it!
“Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. In addition, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.”
WOW…so eat more like a vegetarian and eat less meats.
“Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients. In addition, reduce sodium intake and lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.”
…and last but not least, significantly reduce the amount of processed and junk foods. OK terrific so how do we do that?
“Improve nutrition literacy and cooking skills, including safe food handling skills, and empower and motivate the population, especially families with children, to prepare and consume healthy foods at home.
Oh I see make meals from scratch with whole foods at home and eat out less, which will also save you money, good one!
“Encourage restaurants and the food industry to offer health-promoting foods that are low in sodium; limited in added sugars, refined grains, and solid fats; and served in smaller portions.”
Get the restaurants and food makers to offer up items with our health in mind, I like it! So to sum things up:
“The American environment is conducive to this epidemic, presenting temptation to the populace in the form of tasty, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods and beverages.”
“Americans eat too many calories from foods high in solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS) that offer few or no other nutrients besides calories”
Its too easy to get cheap foods that are not good for us.
“Selected behaviors that lead to a greater propensity to gain weight include too much TV watching, too little physical activity, eating out frequently (especially at Quick Service Restaurants [i.e. fast food restaurants]), snacking on energy-dense food and drinks, skipping breakfast, and consuming large portions.”
…and we eat too much fast food while watching the Biggest Looser and not out actually exercising ourselves. Wow those are some harsh words! They ended it with a call to action:
“To move toward this vision, all segments of society—from parents to policy makers and everyone else in between—must now take responsibility and play a leadership role in creating gradual and steady change to help current and future generations live healthy and productive lives. “
So each one of us has to take responsibility for ourselves and our families to make these changes happen in our own world. Well, I am not sure whether to cheer or cry. The problem is clear, the solution will require some habit changes (and we all know how those goes). Habits are sometimes hard to change, especially if you have had them for some time. For me, the best approach was small changes over time. I can handle small change and it was harder for me to make a lot of change all at once. Slow and steady wins the race!
Start today and just keep make small changes over time and before you know it you will be in a whole new place and you will love it!