Safe to say that I have little, if any, trust in the American government to recommend what we should be eating to live healthy lives. Case in point: MyPlate. The USDA’s newest take on the food pyramid. Although it’s a step up from the former Food Pyramid, it’s still ridiculously obvious how backed the USDA is by agricultural and Big Food lobbyists.
“Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture Pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating.”
Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health
The USDA’s upgraded Food Pyramid, otherwise known as MyPlate fails by:
- having a protein section that lacks important information about high-protein foods—fish, poultry, beans, nuts—and how they are healthier than red meats and processed meats
- being silent on beneficial fats that will help keep our brains, eyes and nerves healthy
- not distinguishing between potatoes and other vegetables (because hey, if they say potatoes aren’t great, they may have to lose the french fries as a serving of vegetables in our kids’ school lunches…)
- recommending dairy at every meal, even though, as Professor Willett goes on to say, “there is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful”
- failing to include physical activity as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle
Thankfully, nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in conjunction with colleagues at Harvard Health Publications have released their own take on a healthy diet with the Healthy Eating Plate.
And apparently the USDA has taken notice because since it’s release, the USDA has tweaked MyPlate to now differentiate between whole grains and refined grains (suggesting that at least half should be whole grains, which is still inadequate in my opinion) and to recommend that people should drink water instead of sugary drinks (gee, you think?). Well at least they got that (somewhat) right.
If we learn anything from this whole debacle, it’s that you should not (and can not) trust a governing authority to tell you how to take care of yourself.