When the editor went away...
All potatoes are not born equal, says chart

Slow news day

It must be a slow news day when the media spends hundreds of words on discussing a chart that has yet to be unveiled. But the New York Times writer surely got it right with the opener: "Whatever you do, don't call it a pie chart."

We are being told that the government will replace the "food pyramid" with a food pie chart although they will call it something else. This thing which is not a pie chart has not been revealed yet but because chart purists have such political clout it was thought necessary to release a trial balloon on a holiday weekend to gauge what the response might be.

I think we should reserve our judgment till we see this thing.

***

In any case, the focus on encouraging people to eat the right proportions of foods is wrong-headed. Firstly, it is next to impossible for anyone to keep track of the distribution of foods consumed in any given day, unless you keep a diary. Secondly, nutritionists know that the biggest contributor to obesity is the quantity of food being eaten. Thus, a much more effective way is encouraging smaller portions, or knowing when to stop eating. This method also happens to be much easier to put into practice.

Comments

Ken

Generally vegetables are more filling, so they are a good option. Truth is they have a large proportion of water.

Alan

"Firstly, it is next to impossible for anyone to keep track of the distribution of foods consumed in any given day, unless you keep a diary."

The new guidelines, according to the New York Times article aren't about keeping exact measurements. What's the "central mantra"? "Make half your plate fruits and vegetables." Sure, you may not do perfectly, but if you're always striving for it, you'll be eating much healthier than your average American. You sure as heck don't need to keep a diary. The old guidelines are similar; they do offer very concrete numbers if you want them, but the first thing you see are broad, reasonable guidelines: cut down on meat and oil, prefer lean proteins, eat lots of veggies.

"Secondly, nutritionists know that the biggest contributor to obesity is the quantity of food being eaten."

The food pyramid was never primarily focused on obesity. Even you're a perfectly healthy weight, you should still eat lots of veggies and minimize the meat and oil. That's good advice for just about anyone.

Secondly, if half of what you're eating is veggies and fruit, you're going to fill up on low-calorie per volume (and weight) food. Turns out that people tend to eat roughly the same volume of food each day, and that if they eat low energy density food, they consume fewer calories. You consume fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight.

(I am going to assume you're just using "nutritionist" as a loose synonym for "dietitian." There is a difference, in many countries a dietitian must have professional training and is frequently a part of the medical profession, while a nutritionist is anyone who wants to call themselves one.

Jon

Weight watchers (WW) is working for me. I tend to overeat at events (holidays, etc). Most of the time I eat fruits and vegetables. It's the events that kill me and get me to put on the weight. When you over eat all the time the "stop eating when you feel full" doesn't work since you have ignored those feelings for so long. WW makes you realize what puts on the pounds and what doesn't. I like to think of it like those that aren't good with their money, they need to track it to figure out what is going on, same for weight loss, so I track mine since I'm not very good with weight.

Benjamin Wenner

If only more people realized your simple truth of limiting food intake. Instead we spend all this time and money chasing after "health foods" and diet programs.

The comments to this entry are closed.