Taken from my blog on Sugar: Getting to the Bottom of the Sugar Bowl

Happy New Year!

It's the start of the new year and many of us are contemplating that dieting resolution. This week I was going to look at a little history surrounding food pyramids and then learn about the new USDA's Choose My Plate website. I was going to attempt to design a My Plate based on my own schematics. I'm such a novice when it comes to diet and nutrition. I can admit that. But at the same time I am willing to trudge along in hopes of maybe discovering something that will help me be more watchful of what I eat, and when I eat. Hopefully others will be able to apply some of my findings and put them to use in their own lives.

My hope in creating this blog is to address the issue of Food Politics and VOTING WITH YOUR FORK!

Politics does tend to leave one with a nasty taste on ones pallet. With that thought in mind, I included the video below because I wanted to demonstrate that not everything political has to be bad. Cooking can be a political endeavor but a meaningful one that others can learn from.


White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford demonstrates cooking

Published on May 17, 2013 For Chef Comerford's recipes, go here: Let's Move

The Experts

Experts are always trying to tell us how to eat. They have created charts, and pyramids and now they have come out with a new diagram to end all diagrams "My Plate"; all designed to guide our eating experience. All designs aside, honestly, if I'm hungry and the right food is before me, what is to stop me from munching down on a bag of chips, cookies, or whatever instead? There has to be a set of principles in place first that will help me lay the foundation for future successful eating habits. A bunch of pictures doesn't do much for me. Pictures are what you look at as a reminder after you have successfully gone through a dietary training program, right?

An expert would probably attempt to explore the principles behind the eating problem first; incorporating principles of expert knowledge and the possible effects of that learning process. These same principles can be easily adapted for helping individuals engage in adjusting their learning and processing new dietary information. A novice can train themselves to become experts in dietary nutrition if they apply the principle of good eating habits and exercise. Novices can learn just like the experts to combine all six of the following principles into a system that works for them on an individual and personal level.

The six principles:

Novices and experts alike can learn to eat right, take care of their health, and speak out about nutrition concerns by VOTING WITH THEIR FORK! They just need to follow the principles. An individual has to be actively engaged and be able to incorporate, simultaneously, all the principles listed here. Since stored knowledge is conditionalized on a set of circumstances, watching an expert doesn't necessarily result in successful learning. The recognition of patterns can only come over time. The same is true with diet and nutrition - it takes time. You have to learn to train yourself. Be gentle with yourself - no one expects you to get it overnight.

1. Recognize meaningful patterns

Dieters are always looking for fades and ways to engage their minds to stay motivated. What better way to begin your nutritional search than to buy a few self help books and paste a pyramid chart on your refrigerator or wallOr, what better place to start looking for those self helps than My Plate . There are tons of Google images we can can also look at free online. We can mentally start to build patterns, or store chunks of memory for later use by observing images and incorporating the content of those images into our memory .


AAEAAQAAAAAAAAWmAAAAJDNjOTExMTc5LWFjNTgtNGJlNC05NGNjLWU2ODE5OTQwYmY5YQ-2 Politics of Food -Vote with your Fork2. Help Dieters Develop understanding

MyPyramid used to be the system that we were all told was the tried and true, the governments approved approach to staying healthy. Well, it's out!

In order to help dieters develop understanding about health and nutrition, you have to give them the basics first. Not everyone will be able to jump in headfirst and start cutting away every food they enjoy as well as cut portion sizes. The following chart is also out!

01fc4bf-1 Politics of Food -Vote with your ForkHow do you start if everything you've been told is constantly being changed? Of course seeing your doctor and getting his recommendations should be the first thing you do. Follow the guidelines he or she gives you. Then maybe begin talking to a dietitian and working out a reasonable plan for yourself. Educating yourself as much as possible is a good first step.

Know what your short term goals are? What are your long term goals? To help develop understanding about where you are at with your diet, write things down; start a daily log. Set a goal of decreasing sugar intake. Along with decreasing that sugar intake, add more water to your diet. Chart your progress in your daily log. I started by getting rid soda's.

I started by getting rid soda's

A scale can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I never touch a scale if I don't have too. I prefer to measure my success by the fit of my clothing. A scale or a tape measure, it's your option. As you log your progress you will begin to see the changes in your health and how you look. The motivation from losing a few pounds or dropping a pants size alone will help with understanding and encourage you to continue. Those memory chucks and patterns start to build.

I never touch a scale if I don't have too. I prefer to measure my success by the fit of my clothing.

3. Learn when, why, and where to use information

250b9e6-1 Politics of Food -Vote with your Fork

On the image above, the pyramid on the left is the old government pyramid, it doesn't really break things down for you like fats and carbs, etc. The Choose My Plate on the right, is the new guideline, and I must say I was impressed at first glance, but then thought better when confronted with the idea that protein is a nutrient, and are they suggesting we should have dairy with every meal as represented by the blue circle? It's impossible to educate people with just a pyramid or plate.

In the book "Food Politics", by Marion Nestle (2002) University of California Press, they look at the history of the Daily Food Guide Pyramid from its inception. They also address the ideology of belief based and science based approaches to food choices and dietary supplements as well. In their attempts to distinguish between the need, efficacy, and safety, they also discuss the many congressional acts imposed since the mid- 1970's on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many of these acts have weakened the FDA's ability to adequately label food products and dietary supplements. The deeper problem with all the congressional politics is that it has allowed the food industry (since 1977) to put pressure on the "eat less" guidelines. If we really want to change the American lifestyle, then the guidelines (the pyramids and plates) must apply to the food industry as well as the dietary supplement industries - not just to us, the consumers.

Reconstructing your diet is going to be an uphill battle, basically because lobbyist are monitoring your food consumption. They are monitoring your plate and what is on it. They don't care if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, or diabetes, etc. So pick your plate wisely.

Lobbyist are monitoring your food consumption

If we really want to change the American lifestyle, then the guidelines (the pyramids and plates) must apply to the food industry as well as the dietary supplement industries - not just to us, the consumers.

4. Promoting fluent access to knowledge

I fail daily. Yesterday I was invited to a barbecue and I had every intention of staying on track with my diet. I did very well, up to the point that the Denver Broncos started playing football on TV; and then our hostess brought out the Bud Light! I did limit myself to one, but I found that I added a desert too. The desert came out after a mid-game commercial was aired. Everybody wanted one - and I didn't resist.

Young and old we are enticed by marketing commercials and ads. Take for instance your favorite toys as a child. Those favorite toys often were additions inside sugary cereal boxes. We became targets for the large food industry - and we were just children. Today kids don't know what to believe. The market for children's clothing, toys, accessories, and even their food has all been convoluted. Today, we have to keep reinforcing good habits to our kids like never before. Reinforcement is hard when TV, radio, and print advertising is all the rave about some new sugar product guaranteed to make you popular.

We have to know the information ourselves in order to provide the correct knowledge, and help correct any misconceptions for our young learners. That's the only way we can help each other. We have to build upon the patterns of good diet, exercise, and portion sizes. At some point these traits are learned, but not necessarily practiced. It's important to keep promoting fluent access to knowledge about health and the risks of not taking care of your health. The food industry spends billions of dollars a year to tell your child and you something different.

The food industry spends billions of dollars hoping you won't think; hoping you won't develop the ability to teach yourself. They are hoping you won't discover those misconceptions about the foods you eat.

5. Students need to develop the ability to teach themselves

Choice when it comes to food is a good word, as long as it’s about selecting the right things, it’s not really about avoiding. Education alone will not improve dietary habits. The food industry spends billions of dollars hoping you won't think; hoping you won't develop the ability to teach yourself. They are hoping you won't discover those misconceptions about the foods you eat. The junk food industry is predatory and they market to young people, because they are their biggest clients. It will take an enormous momentum of concerned citizens to stop them. While My Plate has the right idea, how many people can actually afford to eat that way. I have a hard time seeing fast food on My Plate. It's not realistic because the food industry is not complying to the same guidelines that the average consumer has to comply with. This is where students really have to apply all the chucks of information that tell them what is good for them and what is not; and stop believing the hype. It's a food war, the politics of food, and we have to fight with our forks.

I have a hard time seeing fast food on My Plate. It's not realistic because the food industry is not complying to the same guidelines that the average consumer has to comply with.

6. Help dieters develop adaptive expertise

Today was like any other Monday for me, hectic! I'm stuck in a middle-management position where all the flack seems to land on my desk. I have a Boss above me, an ex-boss in the office next to me, and a bunch of staff to coordinate. The phone is ringing off the wall, there is a ton of e-mail, and my nerves are stressed to the limit. I'm not happy anymore. The atmosphere which used to be happy and joyful has flat lined. Frustrated, I remember that I have one dollar in my pocket and the M&M's in the candy machine are once more calling my name from the break room. Okay, your choice is to have that sack of M&M's, or hang tough I tell myself. In making that decision I know I will either have to extend my walk tonight and/or eat a light dinner or cut it out altogether. This is the reality I have to overcome, because my misconceptions sometimes seriously get in the way of my better health.

I have to get past the M&M's. I have to lose the sugar again. After 9 months of being off of sugar , I'm allowing it to sneak back in once a day. I need to:

  1. Recognize the patterns that are harmful: I'm breaking out, my weight isn't going down.
  2. I need to better understand what I'm putting on my plate, and correct portion sizes
  3. Learn when, why, and where to use information, with an understanding that I have been lied to by the experts.
  4. I need to seek out fluent access to knowledge, and even investigate new recipes made from simple healthy foods.
  5. I am responsible for teaching myself. I must engage in the discovery of what is healthy and what is not, and make adjustments.
  6. I have to learn to adapt. I have to lose the M&M's, if I want to reach my goals. I can't let work, family, or social settings sway my decisions either.

The book "How People Learn" talks about the six principles of expertise and the need to consider them all together as part of an integral system (see Figure below). A novice might only look at one or two aspect within the system in trying to solve for a problem. An expert will try to explore the principles behind the problem first; incorporating all the six principles in the process.

37cb4db-1 Politics of Food -Vote with your ForkI included these principles of expertise in today's blog III because I view my system as not yet in balance, but tipping one way and then the other. Reaching expert in the dieting game is a challenge. But I'm hopeful I will reach the goal, and gain that balance. I'm motivated to do so!

You may not master all the principles at first, but if you stick to it you will find a balance. _______________________________________________________

Goodbye Pyramid..... Hello My Plate * United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Pyramid * Community Charter School of Cambridge Blog *Harvard School of Public Health -The Nutrition Source * SFGate - Food plate icon improvement of pyramid * My Plate http://www.usda.gov/fundinglapse.htm *Chef Comerford's recipes Let’s Move * "How People Learn" Brain, Mind, Experience, and school * My Pyramid * Food Politics