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  • Dan Connors

The food pyramid is BS!

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Almost everything I thought I knew about food growing up turned out to be wrong. Milk builds strong bodies. Beef is what's for dinner. Frozen, canned, and processed foods were not only convenient, they were just as good for you as the fresh stuff.

When the microwave oven debuted in the 1970's, our family went crazy for the quick and hot things you could make straight from freezer to your mouth. Fast food restaurants have exploded in my lifetime, and I always took it for granted that better taste isn't THAT bad for you.

Now that I'm officially obese, I'm having to relearn the basics of nutrition again. The food pyramid, that was put out originally by the US Dept of Agriculture, stressed grains, including good old white bread. 11 servings of carbohydrates a day? No wonder we're getting more fat. It turns out that food pyramid was almost upside down. Much of what we were told (and are still told today) was what the big food companies wanted us to hear so they could sell us their products.

I've read nearly a dozen diet and nutrition books over the past decade, and all of them preach pretty much the same advice- stay away from carbs (bread, sugar, pasta) and double down on fresh fruits and vegetables. The bottom HALF of the food pyramid should be fruits and vegetables, followed by whole grains and beans. Meat, dairy and fats are foods to avoid from what I can tell, though some books are okay with certain types of meat, dairy and fat.

The entire nutrition and diet world is confusing and frustrating when you're trying to plot out a menu of what you can eat and what you can't. There are dozens of diets out there that claim to be healthy and help people lose weight, but the bottom line is can you adjust to them long term and still enjoy an indulgence once in a while? When you're used to such things as pizza, fried chicken, and burgers, switching gears can feel darn near impossible. I've made some progress in the past decade, but I still have a long way to go.

So here we are in the middle of Covid-19 and the last thing most of us want to do is fiddle with our diets. In some cases, people are lucky to have food at all. Finding healthy food is even harder. The stress of avoiding infection and adjusting your life around the unknown triggers a lot of stress eating and drinking- especially sweets and alcohol. But the flip side of that is that now is a perfect time to make some healthy changes- many of us have extra time and need projects. Here's your project- avoid the hospital by not getting infected and keep your weight down so if you do get infected you won't be in the highest risk group (The obese).

Weight loss tip #2- Don't try to change too much too soon, but change something. Take the worst food you eat regularly and cut back on it a bit, or cut it out completely if you can. See how you feel. Then take a new healthy food that you've liked in the past and eat more of it. Try to work it into your routine. We are talking dietary changes here, which is basic to how your body feels. Do some research on foods and don't be afraid to switch things around a bit to see what works best for you.

This week I've added three new items to my food routine- watermelon, almonds, and butter lettuce. Watermelon is sweet, juicy and has practically no calories. It's just a pain in the ass to cut up and store. So I needed a bit of extra motivation to do that. Almonds are a great healthy snack full of protein and healthy fats. I keep a container of them at my desk in my office. And I don't know who came up with the name butter lettuce, but I love it. Let's face it- lettuce has no taste so we dump all sorts of fattening salad dressings on it. to make it palatable. I love all things butter, and though there's no butter in butter lettuce, I can still pretend there is. A tiny sprinkle of bacon bits helps make it tastier.

Changing what you eat is hard. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. But doing the hard things is how we make progress in life.

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