When it comes to nutrition and dietary advice, listen to anyone at your peril. A couple of years ago I wrote an article on how to lose weight (read article here) it was a very general article, and pretty easy to follow. Essentially ignore the advice we get from so called ‘experts’ and start by halving virtually everything that’s white on your plate, chips, bread, rice, sugar etc. and you will have made a great start. I didn’t get into nutrition as I am not an expert in that field, just some simple advice that holds just as true today.
We were all taught that there was a hierarchy of foods we should eat in declining volumes; eat lots of breads, pastas and cereals, less fruits and vegetables … until we get all the way up to the foods we should avoid, with sugar being at the top.
No surprise the food pyramid came from the fattest country on earth, the good ole US of doughnut, I mean A.
The Heart Foundation has just designed a new healthy food guide. The good news is that it is no longer a food ‘pyramid’; the bad news is – it’s a food ‘whale’.
I think it is an improvement on the pyramid, but then anything would have to be better than the food pyramid dreamed up by corrupt vested interests in the US food industry. It does emphasise eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and that’s a good idea, but some of the other advice looks to be more about supporting their own entrenched anti fat position.
It emphasises the low fat options, lean skinless meat, low fat dairy and yoghurt etc. with just a few grains and nuts recommended. There is little detail as to exactly which ones to eat or avoid, i.e. its very general advice.
I am strongly against this whole low fat idea, it’s fat that makes you feel full, and therefore stop eating sooner. I believe that fat, protein and exercise is a good combination. You don’t need a heap of refined carbohydrates; eat less breads, pastas, rice etc. and more fruit and vegetables – but not always raw!
That’s right, the advice we have had to eat everything raw is also bunkum. Many vegetables release different nutrients when eaten raw vs. cooked, like spinach. Spinach eaten raw has less iron than cooked, strange but true. It also has a completely different profile for a range of other nutrients. Some other examples can be found here
The new healthy eating chart tries to eliminate fat, but those who have read some of the articles we have produced about the different types of fats, utilising the expertise of oil and fats expert Dr Laurence Eyres will no doubt appreciate that many fats are extremely good for us, and in fact essential. People who live on a Mediterranean diet are amongst the healthiest in the world, and they certainly don’t give a hoot how much olive oil they use, no calorie counting there.
Look at the advice we have had over the last few decades from the so called experts, and often the government…
Stay out of the sun! Vitamin D deficiency more cancers and the return of the bone disease rickets
The food pyramid – when you compare it to what we know about nutrition and diet you can only wonder how many people have died because of this advice through diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Don’t eat eggs – they raise your cholesterol!! Scared the whole country away from eggs in the 1990’s despite there being no evidence they raised cholesterol, in fact they are an excellent source of protein.
The handful of examples above indicates that we should largely ignore public health messages from the government. They never openly admit when they are wrong, and getting them to move from their positions, even in the face of overwhelming evidence is like trying to turn a super tanker. The heart foundation is another example of this, they cling to their low fat message, but it is far too simplified an argument. The food (bread) pyramid was a disaster that lasted decades, despite countless studies demonstrating it was carbs making us fat, official advice is only starting to change now.
Diet is much more complex than the dumbed down messages we get from authorities and experts. People have different food intolerances to boot, something I am finding out at the moment. I really think the one size fits all approach has had its day, and in clinging to simple messages such as ‘avoid fats wherever possible’, means that in 10 more years they will be unveiling the new food chart, maybe one shaped like an elephant this time.
Daniel King, MSc (hons)