Stop the Madness of Dietary Guidelines

The Federal Government has published new dietary guidelines to try to influence the diets of Americans and improve public health. The is the eighth edition of these guidelines issued by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, updated every five years since 1980. Overall they have encouraged Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat foods, while restricting intake of saturated fat, trans fats and dietary cholesterol.

What have we learned from the history of these guidelines? We have learned that the Federal Government is terrible at promoting good health.

First of all, the whole notion of nutrition “science” is highly questionable. Instead of hard science, what we have is pseudo-science, wrapped in opinion, given a political twist, and then presented as something it is not. Unfortunately, most people do not recognize that this hogwash is full of bias and has more to do with feeling good than advancing knowledge.

Last year, a government advisory committee of nutrition “experts” recommended that the dietary guidelines encourage all Americans to consume more plant-based foods and less meat to help promote environmentally sustainable eating habits. This is purely a lobbying effort and is politically rooted.

Environmentally sustainable = what progressives want you to do no matter what the hard science says

The entire obesity epidemic can be traced back to earlier iterations of these guidelines. By eschewing saturated fats and cholesterol many foods which satisfied the palate in small portions were avoided. Instead people overdosed on carbohydrate-heavy but non-satisfying foods, and they have subsequently gained weight. This is the SnackWells effect – you are eating non-fat “healthy” cookies, so why not eat the whole box?

Progressives love this type of touchy-feely nonsense. “I mean well, so what I am doing must be good.” As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is time for the government to get out of the business of dietary guidelines altogether. What purpose do they serve? This is a waste of tax-payer’s money, and has not been helpful – in fact it has been damaging to the public health.

As a doctor, I will say here what I tell my patients every day. People tend to eat foods that are available and that they like. You can make a resolution or go on a diet, but six months from now, you are likely to be eating what you are eating now. If you want to avoid obesity, moderate your diet. Do not go on fad diets – eat what you like – just less of it. If you can reduce your calorie intake by 5-10% and ideally at the same time increase your caloric output by 5-10% the weight will fall off.

If you want to then be more aggressive about weight loss, change one day at a time. Pick one meal during the week that you want to eat in a more healthy way. You will find healthier foods that you enjoy and you can incorporate them into your diet.

Sustainability is key. It matters less how heavy you are one month from now as one year from now. If you are on a diet and hate it, you won’t stick to it – that is human nature. Same thing goes for exercise – if you are doing an exercise you hate, you won’t stick with it. Find something you like to do and make it a part of your everyday life.

Food, exercise…life. They are all entangled and intermixed, and too much or too little will get you into trouble. Find your own balance.

And get the government out of it!

 

 

Leave a Reply