Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why Choose My Plate is terrible diet advice

Since 1980, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published dietary recommendations every five years to guide Americans in how to make healthy food choices.

Unfortunately, the definition of “healthy” is subject to interpretation.  It is not always based on current valid research and science, and can be heavily influenced by BIG corporations—especially the grain, corn and soy industries.

Let’s put it this way—if the USDA recommendations are truly healthy, then why has our rate of obesity more than doubled since they were first published in 1980, with Type 2 diabetes also exploding during the same time period?

A big concern here is that not only do many people blindly accept what they’re being told, but also professionals such as doctors and dietitians rely on this information as sound advice to pass along.  Plus these guidelines are used as a basis for nutrition programs such as school lunches and public assistance meals—situations where people have little or no control over what they’re given to eat.

The summary of the latest installment of the USDA guides is called “Choose My Plate” (prior editions include the “Food Pyramid”) and trust me, making choices like they recommend can leave you anything but healthy.

Here’s why...

Choose My Plate is terrible diet advice

They recommend 30 percent of each meal to be comprised of grains
Although whole grains do provide more nutrients and fiber than refined grains, ALL grains turn to sugar upon digestion.  In addition to making you fat, sugar stirs up inflammation, taxes your pancreas thereby increasing your risk of Type 2 diabetes, feeds cancer, nourishes unhealthy bacteria and yeasts in your gut (which can weaken your immune system function), and is a leading cause of heart disease.

Note that they also suggest half of your grains be whole grains, but so what?  That means the other half is refined, and they ALL add to your sugar load.

They include legumes as a protein source
Although legumes like black beans and kidney beans do provide protein, most people don’t realize that their predominant macronutrient is still carbohydrates.

For example, a serving of black beans provides 15 grams of protein, but 40 grams of carbs.  Compare that to a chicken breast which provides 43 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbohydrate.

Beans are an excellent source of B vitamins, minerals like magnesium and fiber, but it’s important to know what you’re really getting—far more carbs than protein.

They vilify saturated fats

If I see one more “official source” telling people to minimize saturated fats, choose fat-free dairy and avoid butter, I’ll tear my hair out.  Your body needs all types of fats—saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—each plays a very important role in your health.

About 1/3 of your daily calorie intake should be fats, with a fair representation of each type.
Saturated fats from Nature (such as red meat and real butter, preferably organic) are crucial to your brain and nervous system functioning plus they’re needed for your body to make hormones.
They have been wrongly demonized and implicated as being a primary cause of heart disease over the last several decades due to some outdated, slanted research from the 1950s, but that’s simply not true and our disease statistics prove it.

Although the death rate from cardiovascular disease has decreased from 1 million deaths in 1970 to about 800,000 in 2010, the actual number of people developing heart disease shot up from 3.4 million in 1970 to 5.8 million in 2010.  (Statistics courtesy of the American Heart Association.)

That boils down to a lot more people are getting heart disease, but medications and surgeries are keeping them from croaking.

Here’s an interesting tidbit--the fat that surrounds your heart and on which it relies during times of stress is saturated fat.  That should tell you something.

They don’t point out dangers of polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils are extremely sensitive to heat and form toxic lipid peroxides, carcinogens, and mutagens when heated, so they should NEVER be used for cooking.

The best choices for cooking are stable saturated fats like butter, lard or tallow.

Plus polyunsaturated oils that are packaged in clear glass or plastic containers should be avoided, as oxygen, heat and light can cause the oils to become rancid.

And margarine and spreads are created by heating polyunsaturated oils, so they’re already denatured even on the store shelves.  They are best avoided at all cost.

They have replaced the balanced diet with the balanced meal

A balanced diet is one that provides the nutrients necessary for the body to function as it should and to maintain proper health—incorporating a wide variety of macronutrients, micronutrients, and fiber.

Nowhere is it written that ALL of these foods must be present in EVERY SINGLE MEAL.

As a matter of fact, our typical meals comprised of every type of food under the sun is a major reason why three out of four Americans suffer from digestive issues.

Keeping meals simpler—pairing a protein OR starch (but not both) with lots of vegetables—makes your stomach’s job much easier and can help curb gas, bloating and heartburn.

In addition, fruit must ideally be eaten alone on an empty stomach—not piled in with a bunch of other foods.  Unlike other foods, fruit is digested exclusively in the small intestine, but when its passage to the intestine is blocked by other foods in the stomach, it can ferment and cause gas and bloating.

For more information on proper food pairing for better digestion and making truly healthy diet choices, check out the Great Taste No Pain system.

The bottom line: Eat real food
The more you stick to real foods like fresh fruits (on an empty stomach of course!), fresh vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy, butter, legumes, nuts and seeds, the healthier you will be.  Period.

Now that’s an easy guideline to follow!


  1. Interesting. Is Nature's Way Liquid Coconut oil the same as polyunsaturated because it remains a liquid? I use it in my green smoothies because the solid coconut oil does not mix. Is this defeating the purpose of ingesting coconut oil?

  2. I would also like to know about virgin olive oil. I use it to sauté vegetables. I've tried others like coconut oil but I can't stand the taste.

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