How we feed ourselves has occupied a majority of the human effort since the beginning of time. As we have developed as a society more and more of the food preparation has been taken over by the food industry and less is done by individuals and families.
We no longer actually know how to feed ourselves properly. The government is trying valiantly to educate us. The food pyramid was a solid attempt but it fell out of favor when it became clear that we really didn’t eat near enough fruits and vegetables in all forms. The segment of the pyramid devoted to this category was too small. Retailers all over the country recognize some responsibility in trying to educate consumers as to how to procure good nutrition. It’s also in their best interest to help people make good choices in the supermarket and learn how to prepare quality meals. The better we get at it, the less often we will choose food prepared by others such as fast food and restaurant meals.
But retailers cannot seem to agree on the best way to communicate this education. There is “NuVal” where every item in the store is ranked from 0-100 with 100 being the best choice. It is a complicated algorithm of calories, fiber, added sugar, protein etc. Other retailers are using “Guiding Stars” where the more stars the better.
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama asked the food industry to develop a front-of-pack labeling system that could be widely adopted on food packages and that would help busy consumers—especially parents—make informed decisions when they shop. In response, America’s food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to develop and implement the Nutrition Keys initiative, a voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system that will provide nutrition information including calories and three “nutrients to limit.” The four basic icons, for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars, represent key nutrients for which dietary guidance recommend limiting consumption in the diet. The four basic icons are always presented together as a consistent set.
Nutritional decisions are further complicated by the fact that many of us do not know how to cook and rely on others to inform us or simply cook for us. With the epidemic of obesity in America today, we are facing a generation that may not live as long as their parents for the first time in history. We all need to get involved. The short answer to good nutrition is this:
1) Eat less calories than you burn in exercise
2) Move more
3) Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in all forms that we eat
4) Consume more minimally processed foods
The government came up with a great answer to the pyramid-A PLATE! Make sure that at least half your plate is made up of fruits and vegetables. Split the other half with whole grains and lean protein. Use a minimal amount of “good” fat and cut back or cut out sugar.
Lastly, let’s all look around for our motivation. Get a work out buddy, a dog or take a class. Make a commitment, make a goal. Here is mine-I am running the annual “Run to Feed the Hungry” on Thanksgiving. I have just made myself accountable to all of you.Tags: fruit, nutrition, plate, vegetables