Change Coming to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

The BreadIt’s about that time again, folks. The sixth meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recently drawn to a close. Just one more meeting remains until the absolute final word on how to eat healthily and stave off chronic disease, obesity, and early death forever becomes available for public consumption. Isn’t it grand? We can all just sit back, turn off our brains, close down the PubMed tab, and receive premier nutritional recommendations that do all the work for us. I’m serious. Stop thinking so much. The impending recommendations come from high up: a Committee composed of Important People and Experts with your best interests in mind.

Well, that’s what they want you to think. In reality, these guidelines are likely going to have a lot of shortcomings, inconsistencies, and outright errors – just like the previous guidelines – and they deserve criticism and scrutiny.

The Healthy Nation Coalition, whose director is Adele Hite, talented purveyor of the brilliant Eathropology blog, has produced a scathing letter detailing the specific shortcomings, failings, and falsehoods found in the past and likely future Dietary Guidelines. Though it’s addressed to Tom Vilsack of the Department of Agriculture and Sylvia Burwell of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Healthy Nation Coalition’s true target audience is “broad-based and includes scientists, health care practitioners, ranchers & farmers, health advocacy groups,” and people like you guys. You can read it here.

So, what’s their beef with the Guidelines? The Coalition’s letter submits five points of contention. I’ll go through each one of them in turn.

They have contributed to the increase of chronic diseases.

Since 1977, the Dietary Goals have suggested that Americans interested in living longer and avoiding chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer should eat less saturated fat and cholesterol from animal foods and eat more grains (and grain products) and vegetable oils. That message has never changed. The Food Pyramid held firm, even amidst growing rates of the diseases it was supposed to prevent.

Critics contend that Americans simply didn’t Pyramid hard enough. They say we didn’t follow the guidelines, and that’s why disease increased. There’s a glimmer of truth there. Americans don’t eat the recommended number of vegetable servings a day, for one. But by and large, we have heeded the main recommendations stressed by the Committee: we reduced the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in our diets (from foods like eggs, whole milk, butter, and red meat) and increased our consumption of grains and vegetable oils.

They have not provided guidance compatible with adequate essential nutrition.

The guidelines focus too much on what not to eat (animal products). And when they do tell us to eat certain foods, their advice is predicated on what those foods do not contain (cholesterol, saturated fat). There appears to be a basic disregard for the essential requirements of human nutrition.

One hilarious example (that I’ve pointed out in the past) is that the sodium guidelines are completely incompatible with the potassium guidelines. The guidelines for sodium and potassium intake cannot be met simultaneously. The esteemed experts want you to eat in a way that is literally impossible to accomplish.

Another is the total absence of any mention of choline, despite its official categorization as an essential micronutrient in 1998. We get that it’s found in scary foods like eggs, liver, and meat, but since it appears to be highly protective against the development of fatty liver disease, you’d think it’d get at least a cursory mention. But nope.

They also ignore the meager results of trials of the recommended low-fat diet in children. Kids don’t have much control over what they eat. They eat what the parents eat. And when kids eat the low-fat diet promoted by the guidelines, their intake of several vital nutrients – magnesium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E, phosphorus, vitamin B-12, niacin, and riboflavin – suffers. That could have disastrous effects on the lifelong health and development of these children. Heck, it probably already has.

They represent a narrow approach to food and nutrition inconsistent with the nation’s diverse cultures, ethnicities, and socioeconomic classes.

We’re a nation of many cultures, ethnicities, and classes. Different genetic background, family histories, and access to foods changes our response to the guidelines. A wealthy family with one breadwinner and all the time in the world to cook at home might get away with a low-fat, Guideline-compliant diet. They’re shopping at Whole Foods, cooking with extra virgin olive oil, baking real sourdough at home (or buying it for $10 a loaf from the eccentric baker at the farmer’s market), eating wild salmon, and having the occasional meal of grass-fed beef. Not ideal, but not terrible, right? If you’re a single parent juggling a couple jobs and barely skating by, your low-fat, Guideline-compliant diet consists of white bread, jugs of corn oil, fish sticks, and vegetarian burritos from Taco Bell.

Ethnicity matters, too. One example is that black Americans gain far more weight on the Guideline-compliant diet than white Americans, who already gain a fair amount themselves.

Also, avoiding saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal products in general eliminates the inclusion of certain traditional and healthy aspects of ethnic cuisines. Mexican cuisine’s lard and chorizo and eggs? No dice. Indian Americans’ ghee? Absolutely not. Pretty much the entirety of soul food is off limits, and good luck sneaking traditional Jewish liver paté through your restricted Guideline-compliant diet. The worst part is that these Guidelines are having an effect. I can’t recall how many times I’ve gone to an Indian restaurant or taqueria, asked if they cook with “real ghee/lard” and got horrified looks from the managers. Either that or they say “Oh, no! Of course not! 100% cholesterol free vegetable oil is all we use!” under the assumption that I’m trying to avoid, not seek, restaurants that cook in ghee or lard.

They are based on weak and inconclusive scientific data.

If the guidelines were based on solid evidence, and people just weren’t doing it right, that would be one thing. But the evidence used to support the guidelines isn’t settled; it’s error-riddled and ignores counter evidence.

They claim that saturated fat raises the risk of heart disease, even though the most recent meta-analyses find no relationship between the two. Some studies even find inverse relationships between saturated fat consumption and progression of atherosclerosis.

They claim that dietary cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, even though a joint meeting between the AHA and the American College of Cardiology decided to drop the restriction on dietary cholesterol.

They claim that PUFA oils reduce the risk of heart disease and should be the primary source of fat in the diet, even though an updated meta-analysis incorporating recovered data from past “pro-PUFA” trials concluded that “substituting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.”

They claim that high-carb diets reduce the risk of chronic disease, ignoring research attributing beneficial changes of disease blood markers to low-carb diets and the admission of a former Guideline Committee chair that “evidence has begun to accumulate suggesting that a lower intake of carbohydrate may be better for cardiovascular health.”

They claim a low-sodium diet reduces the risk of chronic disease, even though a recent report from the Institute of Medicine found insufficient evidence to support the sodium guidelines for African-Americans of any age and adults over 50.

And they have expanded their purpose to issues outside their original mandate.

Originally, the Guidelines were simple recommendations about what to eat for good health. Wrongheaded, but mostly harmless. Today, they inform federal regulations, school lunches, agricultural policy, and budget allocations. They dictate nutritional research. And yet there’s no accountability. No one is tracking the rates of obesity and chronic disease to determine whether the Guidelines are actually working (they’re not, clearly).

The Heathy Nation Coalition offers a series of solutions that look pretty solid to me. They want guidelines that are based on sound science, work for all Americans (not just the wealthy), include traditional foods (even if they contain scary nutrients like saturated fat and cholesterol), allow for research into special populations and health conditions, focus on health (not just bodyweight), and make sense of seemingly contradictory dietary advice.

Even if this letter doesn’t reach the Committee, let alone change the content of its recommendations, it’s still going to change how thousands of people think about their own diets. Anyone who reads it will think twice about assuming the official recommendations are sound and ironclad.

So, today, go ahead and put your name on that list if you agree with the letter and its criticisms and suggestions. Send it along with the other tens of thousands of food eaters out there who want to continue to eat the way they like and the evidence – the actual evidence – suggests is sound. Post it to your Facebook timeline. Put it up on your health food store’s bulletin board. This isn’t about setting out to change the world. That will only end in disappointment. Instead, provide the tools for change to the people close to you. If everyone can help one, two, or more people discover that the official dietary guidelines are based on poor science and that better ways exist, widespread change will happen organically.

I think sharing this letter might be a nice, simple, concise way of doing that.

What about you, folks? What do you think about the letter? Let’s get this thing moving!

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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63 thoughts on “Change Coming to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?”

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  1. Thanks for spreading the word about this! Definitely agree that the current guidelines are hurting rather than helping most people.

  2. Oh I’m definitely signing the letter. Between the lack of research to support their nutritional guidelines, $$ lobbyists continually promoting unsafe foods/additives, and the pharmaceutical companies profiting off of the whole mess I’m done with it!

    1. A big loud BINGO!! Disease is the only thing holding up our economy on a broader scale. Wipe out disease, and the unemployment rate would shoot through the roof to levels never before seen.

  3. The letter is a good one and it would be great if it gets the attention it deserves. Too bad we can’t add our names to the list of supporters unless we have titles and organizations as part of our information. It would be nice if we could just count as concerned individuals.

    1. The bit about titles and organizations is odd. I put “webmaster” of my blog. But citizen of the United States seems like a good answer too.

    2. I signed the letter as a private individual: name, zipcode, and email address.

    3. Yes, I thought that was odd as well. It’s the second form this month that required that I put my position in an organization. I have credentials, but right now am a SAHM. It’s irritating because the implication is that one is less credible (or one’s voice or vote matters less) if not working for “The Man.”

  4. We can always use these guys the same way we use traditional medical doctors whatever they say .”DO THE OPPOSITE!” works like a charm!

  5. Yes, they get it wrong, but why? “Financial incentives” could be the short answer, but why isn’t there as much financial incentive to get it right? I’m missing something in this equation.

    1. Not sure they would officially advocate a diet most people cannot afford and the environment cannot sustain.

  6. This should be fun. I’m tempted to pop a batch of GMO free popcorn and watch this horror movie. But I don’t even eat popcorn…

  7. Title: Citizen, Institution: USA. Added my name and posted on Facebook. Thanks for the heads up, Mark!

  8. Sigh! Its hard for people to hear the truth when they are so entrenched. I should know. It took me a while to not dismiss this way of eating for so many reasons. I truly believe that this will be a generational change. Because we are better for this change, our children will be even better, and their children and so on.

  9. So what can we do? Play and eat according to the food map and follow our instincts. Even if it means swimming against the current like a wild salmon. Sorry for sounding cynical but I don’t see a big shift in the general guidelines, as long as lobbyists from big pharmaceutical, agriculture and other interest groups call the shots; at least not in the near future.

  10. To paraphrase something a friend once said: The DGAC ain’t your daddy. Ignore their advice and do your own thinking. Simple, yes?

  11. I am an MDA success story. I was also on government assistance growing up. Not to my mom wanted us to be, she had some very serious debilitating issues and I know tried every day to get off of assistance. Eventually she would.

    But not before I was in my 20s. My childhood was the meager amount of food we could buy on food stamps and school breakfasts and lunches. For which I will always be grateful. They helped keep me alive.

    But this matters A LOT. For some people that have means because their good intentions are being stolen. They believe the guidelines. For others because this is going to be the basis of the food they get or they can choose to go hungry or worse.

    So yes you and I know better. Many don’t. Many can’t do a darn thing about it even if they do know better.

    The government cannot afford another 5 years of lousy, health destroying AND economy destroying guidelines. Yeah grain farmers and cereal makers love these guidelines.

    Guess what? The economic output of grain farmers and food manufacturers is now dwarfed by the economic costs of ill health. I don’t suppose it will change in 2015 but 2020 is the absolute last chance. Last chance period. At least via the government.

    Between then and now we have to help change as much as we can. I had a work presentation yesterday. 78 people in person and many more via video conference. It was very well attended and very well received. This will continue to be a ground up revolution. But we also need as many ‘experts’ and organizations on board as possible.

    I now follow items like this pretty closely and 2014 has been a remarkable year. It is a shame it got to a point where it became so obvious and so devastating for so many. But it has. And change is happening at all levels. But it would have been best to have happened 20 years ago or Ancel Keys in some alternate universe to have been, I don’t know, a ballet dancer.

    But the past is the past. Change has to happen NOW. World wide, society wide, food producing wide, massive change.

  12. Here’s what nutrition information my kids get in school from a health class video: “Eat whole grain cereal for breakfast, such as shredded wheat. This may not be sweet enough for you, so you can add honey or syrup to your shredded wheat.” I realized I’ve made anti-food-pyramid rebels when my kids were sarcastically quoting the movie and laughing their socks off.

    My daughter is fully primal (minus the dairy), my son (age 11) still eats shredded wheat and oatmeal before morning swim team, but at least my message is being heard. Maybe he’s coming around? Anyway, I’m calling the anti-pyramid attitude a victory!

    1. If your son’s at his right weight, then it’s understandable he might want to carb load before morning swim team. Try and suggest non grain alternatives such as potato flapjacks, kumara (sweet potatoes) or if you can get them at a good price banana’s.

  13. “Americans simply didn’t Pyramid hard enough.” This made me chuckle.

    Unfortunately, I know more than a few people definitely believe this, even about themselves. In fact so did I for many years.

    Misinformation is far more dangerous than no information.

    1. This was me, before primal. And, to be honest, it’s still me now. The people with the health problems…I still doubt they followed any dietary guidelines.

      I did think it was weird that we were “evolved” to eat basically grass seed and other foods that aren’t really viable without farming, though.


    2. That sounds like Durian rider when high carb vegans gain weight. The plan was not followed. The reason is that not enough fruit was eaten.

  14. Change will come in time, it can take a good 20 years though for changes to flow through. The best we can do is educate people outside of the governmental guidelines and continue working towards having them changed officially.

  15. The problem isn’t the right science or the right messages. This is about money. Grains, corn, soy, high volume dairy and so forth are inexpensive, easy to store and highly profitable, especially when processed. Meats and animal fats are expensive, hard to store and not profitable. A recent President said “We’re pretty good at growing corn”.

    So the research $ will be pointed at ‘proving’ we need a high carbohydrate diet rich in dairy products and that we should avoid meat and animal fats. Not because of misguided science or bad studies, but because a fair part of our national economy depends on it. Its also the best way to sustain rapid population growth, increasing the number of taxpayers.

    Good luck with changing it. Perhaps if enough people follow the primal style, lose weight, improve health, etc…it’ll happen from the ground up. Just don’t expect the government to lead in this effort. Spend your bullets on educating the people, not in an attempt to re-educate the bureaucrats. They aren’t interested.

    1. Many of the people aren’t interested either. I no longer mention Paleo to friends, relatives, etc. I did at one time, but their eyes glaze over and they quickly lose interest when they realize they’d have to give up their favorite comfort foods. I’ve had more than one person tell me, “Oh, I could never do that.”

      Thing is, Paleo is out there. Most people have heard of it by now. Most people also have the ability to do their own research if sufficiently motivated. If they prefer to accept bogus, government-sponsored advice that doesn’t work, it’s their right to do so. Like many other things in life, commitment to a healthy diet is a choice. The letter referenced here is well written and a good idea. However, for a number of reasons, I don’t think it’s going to change anything.

      1. Yep, I always got “I have to have my xyz”. I’d say “Then the food is in charge and you won’t be able to lose weight”. That was pretty much the end of that.

      2. Here is the thing. Those people living according to the CW impact you MASSIVELY.

        We are ALL interconnected. Our economy and society is going to collapse if more people don’t change and we force change from the ground up. Maybe you and your loved ones do OK when it collapses, maybe they don’t.

        I’d like to not go all dystopia myself. What government hasn’t gotten through its head yet is how it measures economic output and such. Right now all the medical costs I suppose get counted as economic activity. But it isn’t being spent on education, environmental restoration, new energy technologies, repairing infrastructure, getting grass fed agriculture and local agriculture going in every corner.

        In other words we can have the same amount of economic activity in areas that actually help ensure our survival or well-being or we can just collapse.

        Guess what? Every single person living according to CW and tuning you out just doesn’t impact them. They impact YOU, and your loved ones fundamentally. So I should have a say in their choices, government has to move quickly, and we have to educate government as well as our peers.

        1. Last time I checked, it was still a free country, more or less. Sure, the choices of others can affect the rest of us to some degree, but realistically, what are you going to do about it? Government never acts quickly, and maybe that’s a good thing. Keep in mind there’s usually a downside to every upside.

          Not only is your comment exaggerated, without realizing it you’re also advocating a police state, which would hurt all of us. I think free choice is a much better idea, even if those choices don’t agree with your choices.

        2. Actually you are misinterpreting what I said. I didn’t say force people to eat a certain way.

          But look what we can do: not have this massive misinformation on nutrition from official agencies. Not allow Heart and Diet and Diabetes associations to have any thing to do with junk food manufacturers. Tax soda like cigarettes. Why? That choice impacts all of us.

          We force kids on school lunches already to ONLY have skim and low fat dairy. So we are already denying them full fat dairy which can be critical in development.

          We give subsidies, my tax dollars PAY for corn, soy, and wheat production. Then my tax dollars pay for all the horrific medical impacts.

          There are literally millions of things we can do short of forcing people to eat a certain way.

          Why would you even go there? I am not.

          But note we do on public assistance and in prisons and even in the best hospitals in the country essentially force people to eat horrible food. If you go into a hospital for diabetes, cancer, heart disease in most cases I believe you are almost forced to have food that most likely caused that condition in the first place.

          Why all the lousy, official stuff that must be changed.

          So we are already ‘forcing’ certain populations to eat in certain ways. We already allow all kinds of marketing to toddlers and kids.

          So I am not advocating ‘forcing’ people but I am asking for structural change for all of our sakes.

  16. I’d advocate people to leave individual comments on the DGA. Signed letters count as one comment, individual comments (even if slightly differ) count as individual comments

    1. from the article:

      “Some proponents of Paleo suggest we avoid all grains, legumes, certain dairy products, conventionally raised meats, non-organic produce and genetically modified and processed foods,” Hewat says.

      “Any diet excluding whole food groups should raise suspicions.”

      Hmmm…I guess I should be careful about eliminating my portions of “healthy” genetically modified and processed foods category ?

      1. So eliminating whole food groups like meats and saturated animal fats/coconut oil should raise suspicions?


  17. My 11 year old confronted her home ec teacher when she was promoting margarine as a way to eat healthy. She complained so much that they ultimately used grass fed Irish butter to cook their grilled cheese sandwiches. One step foreward and two steps back. Cracked me up.

  18. Since when is it the responsibility of the US government to tell the citizens how to eat?? The same thing is true for education and healthcare; no constitutional authority. The only roles the federal government are to perform are coin our money, establish post office boxes and protect our borders. Everything else is delegated to the states.

    It seems quite pompous and arrogant that the politicians and government officials claim to know more than the citizens by recommending what they should eat. Even worse, the citizens blindly follow the advice, at their own peril. Question authority!! The government (and money) makes a great servant but a terrible master

  19. I think the tide is (slowly) turning. But-if not-butter, eggs, beef and bacon will stay cheap. So I figure it’s a win-win.

  20. …then again we all pay the costs, direct and indirect, of health crises.

  21. I am not paleo, I am a (grain free) vegan (I just don’t see animals as food), However, I wholeheartedly agree with this. I am a portuguese living in the Netherlands and I must say that when I visit the US finding healthy food is a big hassle, while anywhere I go here I can always find a nice alternative. Something is wrong with the very base.

  22. Hmm, if there’s a shift towards a more Paleo way of eating, there’ll be a titanic shift in the vitality of the human race and the planet we live on will begin to heal. There may also be more locally available Paleo / real-food restaurants in my area. BUT, I can no longer be smug about my alternative diet.

    This is all encouraging stuff, and it was great to read about the more blatant short-comings of the guidelines in one succinct post! I could be wrong, but I honestly don’t expect much alteration to the guidelines despite the glaring arguments.

  23. Oh goodie…

    As a tee-shirt of mine says, “Trust the government. It worked for the Indians.”

  24. What about the strength of data from the “Blue Zones”? Seems like a safe diet and lifestyle to emulate.

  25. I was thrilled last week to see our regular Catalyst program on ABC (Australian) prime time TV 8 pm commit their whole program to delve into and explain the reasons behind the Paleo Lifestyle.

    It ticked all the boxes for me but I guess I am a convert, but the program was very well put together.

    Yet the following days the “top” Nutritionists in the country were up in arms about the program. The most mind boggling comment was “this diet could be dangerous as people would run the risk of not being regular without grains in their diet and therefore would run all sorts of risks getting various illnesses”!!!

    Really !!!

    I do feel the Paleo Lifestyle is getting more and more publicity in Australia and as one of the previous comments said, it will take time.

    The results speaks for themselves, and I will always follow this lifestyle, it makes so much sense.

  26. Please do not be put off by the “position/title/org” stuff! “Concerned citizen” is a role you should proudly claim, if there’s not another one you’d prefer to mention. We’ve got all of the following “titles” listed: parent, student, author, manager, chef, homemaker, engineer–the list goes one. My personal favorite: “matriarch.” 🙂

    Doing the policy thing is a tightrope walk. I feel that “just folks” are just as important as everyone else. And I’m thrilled that so many have signed on. However, to the extent that folks within the beltline are impressed by “position/title/organization” stuff, we wanted to be able to capture that if we could. So if you’ve got one to flaunt, please flaunt it. But if you consider yourself simply a concerned citizen, that’s just fine too.

    Thanks to everyone for their support & to Mark for supporting & promoting this.

  27. I was just writing about this very topic today, it’s sick how money fuels such corruption.
    “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), for instance, has a long list of corporate sponsors including General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, PepsiCo, and SoyJoy—and its “official partners” include Hershey’s, the Coca-Cola Company, and the National Dairy Council.15”
    ? Denise Minger, Death by Food Pyramid : How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health

  28. Hi all,
    I am a paleo beginner here in France, following Mark’s blog for a couple of months.
    Just one thing regarding the article. I agree for the main part. I think those official recommendations (we have the same type in France) are influenced by lobbies and that recognizing errors and even the largest ones is something very difficult to do for government agencies.
    One thing however. Mark says that it’s not sustainable to have guidelines that forbid/limit traditional food, such as ghee or liver pate… So it’s a criticism to the official pyramid that limits saturated fat (it’s not fully forbidden though)..
    But unfortunately, I find that the paleo guidelines are not better from that view point. Grain is forbidden in the paleo way of life, but it is used in many traditional foods. Just to mention the French bread (baguette) and many others (traditional cakes etc.). So I find that the paleo guidelines to forbid grain is the hardest to follow, since it means not being able to eat food that has been traditionally consumed for so long. This is one of the biggest barries to its wider acceptance I think..

  29. The truth is, nobody ever followed the recommendations in the first place. Americans didn’t get fatter by following the government guidelines because nobody was really following them–sure, they replaced butter with equally unhealthy margarines and oils–but they never reduced fat to 30% or less, which by the way, isn’t really even low fat.

    I tried the Paleo way before–very expensive and never really felt good. Personally, I eat a very low fat diet and eat all the grain products I want. I love bread and eat a ton of it, but I eat really real bread that undergoes a long natural fermentation process. At 51 years old, running twice a week and working out with weights 3 times per week, I’m very lean with excellent ab definition. There is nothing wrong with grain foods if you get off your ass and move now and then.

    1. This is completely dependent on genetics and lifestyle. I know some people who can do grains and only workout at your level, and they are fine.

      As a 44 year old woman who has had 2 kids? My metabolism would never let me do that. Kind of depressing. In my 30’s, I could do that. Doesn’t work anymore. Believe me I’ve tried!

  30. So, this is an interesting topic to me. I’ve been interested in health as long as I can remember. I always read about the pyramid, and the “plate”, and all that. I read books and have cookbooks that are vegan, vegetarian. I’ve read The China Study. I’ve worked with dietitians.

    3 years ago, I joined the 21 day Primal challenge. I couldn’t stick to it 100% (had a slice of whole wheat toast for breakfast each day). I didn’t see magical changes, or great weight loss (or any weight loss). But I did get pregnant. At 41. After trying and giving up for over 1.5 years. The good fat maybe? Anyway, I digress.

    As I struggled to take off the baby weight (after having given birth at 42), I did more reading. I found more programs. My problem with the programs? Well, the Primal Blueprint obviously restricts carbs, but the Pyramid says to eat 6 servings a day! And as a near vegetarian, that’s what is good for you! (It actually worked okay for me in my late 30’s while running 1/2 marathons). The other weight loss programs were similar -more protein and fat, and only 2 servings of carbohydrate foods a day? What about the 6 servings?? That’s what doctors and dietitians say!

    I tried to do these programs with limited success. Because it was hard to stick to. But then. I read Denise Minger’s book “Death by Food Pyramid”, which led me to Luise Light’s book “What to Eat”. And then came the disillusionment. You mean that the dietitian in charge of coming up with the food pyramid – the one who got a panel of experts to make recommendations based on the knowledge and studies of the time – recommended only 1 to 3 servings of carbohydrate foods (grains) per day (only 1 to 2 for women), back in the LATE 80’S???

    And the government who released the Pyramid? Did so in the early 90’s, after she quit in frustration. The blinders were off then. All of these recommendations were from lobbying and not science? I could have known this in 1988?

    So now, it is easier for me to eat this way because I know the other way is based on BS. On a whim, I decided to go hard core in November and completely give up wheat, sugar, alcohol and fried foods. Surprise surprise, 6 pounds off in only 4 weeks (compared to my prior weight loss of 0.5 pounds a week if I’m lucky).

    I don’t have much hope that the recommendations will change in any realistic way though.

  31. Saying dietary guidelines have contributed to an increase of chronic disease is a bit silly. I mean, how many people actually follow the dietary guidelines? Less than 50% of people. And how many people follow the physical activity guidelines on top of that? Very few.

    To make guidelines they sift through thousands or articles and speak to thousands of stakeholders and weight the evidence. It takes two years with a whole team of highly qualified researchers and isn’t just on someone’s whims .In Australia the Food and Grocery council was really pissed off with three words in the last lot of guidelines that came out. The three little words that basically said- “Avoid soft drinks, biscuits, chocolates, tomato sauce, little kids cereals, icecream, fast food, sports drinks (unless you’re doing some athletic endeavour), packaged juices and cordials” in one fell swoop. They are a powerful group with lots of money but too bad so sad for them because the evidence went against their interests and they got nowhere. Dietitians actually have huge issues with many food manufacturers and they are not one and the same by any means.

  32. Well written article…you explained things in laymen’s terms and you were fair. Government issued nutritional guidelines will never change as long as the producers of processed foods and factory farmed meats control the political process. These corporations contribute so much money to political campaigns and to their special interest groups. They have bought government officials and those officials are more than happy to sell out for money and power. Why is it that the government subsidizes wheat, corn and soy but not fruits and vegetables? Because companies like Coca Cola and Mars (manufacturer of candy) contribute mightily to the politicians who vote and make decisions in their best interest.