Myths about dieting and best weight loss diet make news

Update on Dieting and Weight Loss News

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can view it here.

MYTHS ABOUT DIETING AND BEST WEIGHT LOSS DIET MAKE NEWS

News about how to lose weight is always newsworthy, even when there is nothing new to say. But that doesn’t matter. We are fed a steady stream of information about dieting and weight control to keep the conversation going. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear a broadcaster say just once, “There will be no weight loss news tonight.”

I know I’ve had my fill.

Last month we had the unique opportunity to hear about the best weight loss diet and the top obesity myths in the same news cycle. You can’t beat that for intrigue!

What’s True About Weight Loss?

The annual list of the best diets from U.S. News & World Report arrived with the usual excitement, followed by reflexive disappointment. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get healthy or control disease, the best diets in each category still require making better food choices and keeping track of them. Nothing new there.

The top weight loss diets were all about common sense things like eating more vegetables and less meat, taking smaller portions of food and bigger amounts of exercise, and being more focused on your food than your social networks when eating. Is there anyone left who doesn’t know that?

What’s Not True About Weight Loss?

The other story grabbing headlines last month was about obesity myths. Apparently everything we’ve told about dieting and weight loss isn’t true, or at least it hasn’t been scientifically proven.

Researchers at the University of Alabama wanted to set the record straight, so looked for the studies to back up the most popular beliefs about obesity. They reported their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine and said “false and scientifically unsupported beliefs about obesity are pervasive.”

Did you know there’s no proof that taking more physical education classes will curb obesity in kids or that eating more frequently throughout the day will help? With or without proof, it seems pretty obvious to me that the advice isn’t working. But it’s still news.

What Can We Do About Weight Loss?

Why not take a break from all the weight loss news and act on what we already know? There are no game-changing discoveries around the corner. Nothing new is in the pipeline that will make the task easier. And there is never going to be a magic potion that will melt our fat away.

It’s time to stop talking about dieting and weight loss and start doing something about it. We could really surprise all those researchers if we were successful in spite of the myths!

Some other thoughts on the issue can be found here:

  • Technology Beats Temptation in New Weight Watchers Plan
  • 3 Great Tips for losing Weight
  • 5 Sure Steps to Achieving Weight Loss
  • Choosing the Right Diet Plan
  • 8 Ways to Lose Weight This Spring
  • 10 Cheap Diet Solutions for Safe Weight Loss
  • What Fads Diets for Weight Loss Have You Tried?
Study finds restrictive diets and nutrition advice for elderly may not apply

Are Special Diets and Nutrition Guidelines Forever?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read my original blog here.

STUDY FINDS RESTRICTIVE DIETS AND NUTRITION ADVICE FOR ELDERLY MAY NOT APPLY

Have you ever wondered what the upper age limit is for dietary advice? I’m not talking about headline grabbing food fads, but the diet and nutrition guidelines issued periodically by the government and health organizations that tell us what we should be eating more of and what we should eat less of to maintain health and prevent disease.

It’s something worth thinking about if you’re approaching the upper age limit for advice on nutrition.

Food intake requirements are based on several age categories for those younger than 19 years to address the special nutritional needs of growing infants, children and adolescents. The only other special categories are for pregnant and lactating women. The rest of us are lumped into three big groups for anyone 19-30, 31-50 and 51 -70 years of age.

But what about all those people living into their 80s and beyond? Could they possibly expect the same benefits from following a therapeutic diet as a 55 year old? New research suggests the answer is no. In fact, there may actually be survival benefits to being overweight or slightly obese as we age.

Be prepared to take back some of the dietary do’s and don’ts you may have issued to your aging parents.

Researchers at Penn State University and the Geisinger Healthcare System have been tracking the diet and health outcomes of more than 20,000 older people for more than a decade. The findings published in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging focused on 449 individuals who were 76 years of age or older at the start of the study and followed for five years.

Using information collected in a series of 24-hour diet recalls obtained by telephone, the participants were categorized as having one of three different dietary patterns:

  • Sweets and Dairy – largest proportion of energy from baked goods, milk, sweetened coffee and tea, and dairy-based desserts, and the lowest intakes of poultry
  • Health-Conscious – higher intakes of pasta, rice, whole fruit, poultry, nuts, fish and vegetables, with lower intakes of fried vegetables, processed meats and soft drinks
  • Western – higher intakes of breads, eggs, fats, fried vegetables, alcohol and soft drinks, with the lowest intakes of milk and whole fruit

The researchers then used the subjects’ electronic medical records to identify whether they developed cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome during the five year period. They found no relationship between any of the dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or mortality, but did see an increased risk of hypertension among those with the Sweets and Dairy pattern of eating.

Gordon Jensen, one of the authors and Head of Nutritional Science at Penn State University, said, “The results suggest that if you live to be this old, then there may be little to support the use of overly restrictive dietary prescriptions, especially where food intake may already be inadequate.”

This does not mean that people who have been following all the right diet rules can now abandon them. They can actually look forward to the best health outcomes of all. But for the rest of the over 70 crowd whose diets and nutrition habits have not been perfect, there may be no need to keep worrying about what you eat.

Any food can be eaten for breakfast

Breakfast Myth: Skipping Breakfast Because You Don’t Like Breakfast Foods

This blog was written as a guest post for the Bell Institute for Nutrition and Heath. You can read the original post here.

One of the things I love most about being a registered dietitian is all of the fascinating things I learn about food from my clients and consumers. Whether it’s the personal preference of one person I met to put salt on watermelon or the cultural tradition of the entire nation to eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, it is people who give meaning to food. The more insight we have into these acquired and ascribed meanings, the better we will be as nutrition educators.

For example, what comes into your mind when you think of “breakfast foods?” You may imagine the foods you enjoyed eating for breakfast when you were growing up or the ones you now prepare for your own family. Simple, everyday fare may come to mind, such as cereal and milk, or a special family recipe for Stuffed French Toast. Either way, they are all foods that symbolize breakfast for you.

The same is true for each of us. So when we talk about the importance of eating breakfast every day, we must remember that will mean different things to different people. And for some, it may mean a very limited menu of foods they no longer enjoy or have time to prepare.

When people tell me they don’t eat breakfast because they don’t like breakfast foods, I ask them what particular foods they are referring to. No matter what is on their list, I always reassure them they don’t ever have to eat those foods for breakfast or any other time of day if they don’t want to. This helps put them at ease and keep them receptive to whatever I might say next.

That is when I tell them that there are no “official” breakfast foods. What each of us eats in the morning is a matter of taste, time and tradition. In northern Nigeria a typical breakfast consists of fried cakes made from ground beans. A traditional weekend breakfast in Japan may consist of miso soup and steamed white rice topped with a beaten raw egg then wrapped in seaweed and eaten with pickles. The message we want to get across is that there are many ways to make a great breakfast.

By dismantling the idea that only certain foods can be eaten – or must be eaten – at breakfast, we can help consumers who may be skipping this important meal because they don’t like the choices. What they will soon discover is the possibilities are limitless!

Now, tell us – what are some of the breakfast challenges you’ve encountered in your practice?

 

Learn how to avoid overeating at buffets even if the sign says all-you-can-eat

How to Avoid Overeating at Buffets

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

LEARN HOW TO AVOID OVEREATING AT BUFFETS EVEN IF THE SIGN SAYS ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT!

The one question every client who has ever been on a cruise or stayed in an all-inclusive resort has asked before booking the next one is: “How can I avoid overeating at buffets?” Their concern is justified. Any dining establishment that promotes “all-you-can-eat” does not have your best interests in mind.

The whole idea of eating unlimited amounts of food is just plain wrong.

I avoid those places like a failed health inspection sign. But every so often I find myself in a buffet line. It may be the only (or fastest) option for breakfast in a hotel when I’m traveling for business. Or it could be a wedding or other affair where quests are asked to serve themselves from long tables decorated with food.

Unless you know this is going to be your last meal, there’s no need to stuff yourself. Fortunately, research has been done to help identify the traps that can lead us to overeat and the steps that can help slow us down.

Tips to Avoid Overeating at Buffets

Location:

  • Select a table as far away from the buffet as possible. The longer it takes to make a return trip, the fewer of them you are likely to make, and the more obvious you feel as you pass through the dining room.
  • Take a seat at the table that does not face the buffet. Seeing what others are taking increases the chances you will feel compelled to get your share.
  • Take the inside seat in a booth so you have to ask someone to move in order to get out.

Food Options:

  • Walk past each table and serving station before taking a plate. Since you don’t get a menu at a buffet, think of this as a virtual menu. Decide what you would take if you could only sample 3 things, and start with those items, even if it’s a chunk of cheese, a fried oyster and gooey dessert. If that satisfies you, the meal is over!
  • Use a small plate to take tasting portions of anything else you’re interested in. You can go back for more if you love it, and should not don’t finish it if you don’t.
  • Plan to eat in courses and serve yourself only one course at a time just as you would be served if ordering from an a la carte menu. As you become satisfied you can opt to stop eating without having piles of food in front of you.
  • Place food on your dinner plate as if you were serving someone else and wanted to make it look appetizing. Don’t pile one thing on top of another.
  • Skip anything you can have anytime, like a plain dinner roll or baked ziti. There’s no need to consume any extra calories.

Social Skills:

  • Pace your alcohol consumption so you don’t lose your inhibitions about the food.
  • Engage in conversation while at the table to help slow down your speed of eating. The more time that passes, the more likely your satiety signals will kick in.
  • If others from your table are still on line, wait for them to return before sitting down to eat.
  • Wait for a server to clear the plates you are finished with before getting up for more food.
  • Don’t worry about “wasting” food by not finishing what’s on your plate. It is a far greater waste to eat something you don’t like, want or need.

And for help when eating in restaurants without a buffet, see Calories Control Means Weight Control When Eating Out.

A new study on behaviors that aid weight loss found keeping a food journal is number one

Proof: Keeping a Food Journal Aids Weight Loss

This post was written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the original post here.

A NEW STUDY ON BEHAVIORS THAT AID WEIGHT LOSS FOUND KEEPING A FOOD JOURNAL IS NUMBER ONE

When it comes to weight loss, any diet that results in caloric reduction will do the job. But if you’re looking for the best results, keeping a food journal can make the difference. That, along with not skipping meals or eating lunch at restaurants too often.

Those are some of the findings from new research done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The aim of the study was to identify behaviors that support caloric reduction in a population of sedentary, obese and overweight postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 75.

The researchers monitored 123 women for one year who were randomly assigned to either the ‘diet only’ arm of the study or the ‘exercise plus diet’ option. They looked at the impact of a wide range of self-monitoring strategies, diet-related behaviors and meal patterns on weight change in the subjects.

At the end of the study participants in both groups lost an average of 10 percent of their starting weight. But those who kept food records lost the most — approximately 6 pounds more than women who did not keep records.

Skipping meals also affected results. Women who skipped the most meals lost about 8 pounds less than those who did not skip. Going out for lunch was another behavior that impacted weight loss. Those who ate lunch out in a restaurant at least once a week lost about 5 pounds less than those who went out for lunch less often. Eating out regularly for breakfast or supper were also linked to less weight loss, but lunch had the biggest difference on weight.

This research reinforces something I have seen work over and over again in my clinical practice. Throughout the 25 years I was seeing clients, those who keep the best food records lost the most weight and kept it off the longest – women and men, young and old alike. I’ve included this advice in my blogs, too.

Where you keep your record does not matter. It can be done in a simple blank note pad or detailed food journal template, in a computer tracking program or voice activated phone app. What matters is what you report.

Tips for Keeping a Food Journal

Honesty: Record everything you put into your mouth and swallow. Don’t leave out anything whether it was just a nibble or had no calories, like a diet drink. Make it your goal to record everything you eat and drink, period.

Accuracy: Get quantifiable information about the amount you are eating or drinking whenever you can by measuring or weighing the portion you take, counting the items, or reading the label to determine what is the serving size. The more you do this, the better you will be at estimating when you have to.

Thoroughness: Include descriptive information about how the food was prepared, what condiments were used, any sauces or gravy added, and any special features such as low fat, reduced sodium, sugar free, etc. Ask questions when eating out if you’re not sure how something was made or what it was made with.

Consistency: Continue your record-keeping when you are away from home so you can enter information as soon as you eat or drink something, even if you must use the back of a receipt until you can transfer it to your permanent record. Don’t rely on your memory.

I have been keeping a food journal every day since I was in college studying to become a dietitian and my weight has not changed other than when I was pregnant. Has anyone else been keeping a food journal that long?

Reflections on Obesity and the Weight of the Nation

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

A REGISTERED DIETITIAN’S VIEW OF OBESITY CONTRASTS WITH HBO’S WEIGHT OF THE NATION

While awaiting the heavily promoted premier of the HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation, I took the time to reflect on what I have learned about obesity in my 35 years of experience treating people who are overweight or obese. It just so happens my career spans the same trajectory as the epidemic, but I’m pretty sure I am not to blame!

Much has changed in this country since the mid-1970’s when obesity rates began to soar, and it all matters. But it is also true that no one thing is more important than any other in bringing about this unprecedented weight gain among Americans of every race, class and region.

I cannot offer all the mind-numbing statistics, frightening graphics, and challenging expert opinions of a high-tech television production, but I can tell you some things that need to be said.

What Obesity Is Not

All obesity is not same. Every person who reaches the benchmark to be classified as obese got there in his or her own way. It’s the result of a complex interplay of personal biology, environment, and lifestyle, where no two situations are exactly the same because no two people are exactly the same. This becomes even more apparent as the epidemic spreads around the world.

Obesity is not curable. There are many different factors that play a causal role in developing obesity and there no cure for it. Once you become obese, you must spend the rest of your life treating it or risk becoming even fatter or dying of the chronic diseases that accompany it.

 

Obesity is not easy to diagnose. Weighing a person and measuring their height is easy. Using those figures to calculate body mass index (BMI) is also easy. But deciding if someone is obese based on their BMI is not. More sophisticated measurements are needed to determine what the percentage of fat is in the body and where it is located to fully understand whether someone is at risk due to their body size and composition.

 

Obesity is not easy to prevent or treat. The best advice medical science has to offer as a means to prevent obesity is to maintain a state of “energy balance.” That advice is difficult to follow. It requires knowing precisely how many calories you consume every day (over a lifetime) and how much energy you expend every day to offset them. These are intangible values. Once you become obese, you are expected to create an energy imbalance by expending more calories than you take in. Only at this point, your body has a whole new way of dealing with energy that defies the mathematics of using calorie control to achieve weight control.

Obesity is not a plague. Obesity spread very quickly in the last three decades, but it is not a scourge that must be routed out by any means possible. Drastic measures have been proposed to “fix” the way we grow, distribute, and sell food in this country, while the obese have been scrutinized, marginalized, and penalized for their weight. In the panic to find a solution we have lost sight of the fact individuals become obese and it is individuals who need help dealing with it.

I hope I can look back 35 years from now and reflect on all that we learned about obesity to lift this weight from our nation.

 

The simple truths about good nutrition are lost in the hype and sensationalism

Why Are Consumers Confused by Food, Nutrition & Diet Information?

This blog was written as a guest post for Yahoo! Shine. You can read the original here.

In my 30 years of practice as a registered dietitian I have never been discouraged by the challenge of educating people on how to make healthier food choices. It has been a rewarding process for me, whether done individually, in a classroom or over the airwaves.

The bigger challenge has been countering the effort by some health professionals and journalists to reduce important food and nutrition information to simple sound bites or catchy headlines. I have found that these proponents often infuse their messages with emotional language and unsupportable claims that leave consumers ill-equipped to make appropriate decisions in the rapidly expanding food and nutrition marketplace.

I choose not to contribute to this debilitating process. Instead, I want to empower people to make sensible choices for themselves. To support that effort I have prepared a list of New Year’s Resolutions for Better Food and Nutrition Communications in 2012. I hope others will join me and take the pledge to help Americans become better consumers by giving them all of the food and nutrition information they need – not just what fits a sexy headline.

I pledge to:

1. Never propose that a single “diet” – or combination of foods – is best for everyone. I will always ask you what you currently eat and what your food preferences are, then tailor a diet to suit you.

2. Never use the length of a food’s ingredient list as a simple measure of its nutritional value, or lack thereof. I will explain what the key ingredients are in different foods and how they can be enriched or fortified by other ingredients.

3. Never agree with banning or taxing foods or drinks as a way to change what people eat. Advocates say efforts like these will curb obesity, but research shows taxing sugary drinks like soda does not affect body mass index. Instead, I will show you how any food or drink can fit into your diet when you control the frequency and portion size.

4. Never dismiss foods that contain multisyllabic ingredients, words with scientific origins or words that are difficult to pronounce. Instead, I will teach you what those words mean and what their function is so you can make more informed decisions.

5. Never suggest that foods labeled as “all natural,” “organically grown” or “locally sourced” are superior to foods that do not carry these labels. I will show you how to use the Nutrition Facts on food labels so you can make appropriate comparisons based on nutrient content, cost and availability.

6. Never use inflammatory or provocative language when talking about food, such as “junk,” “garbage” or “toxic.” I will remain objective in my discourse so you can make objective decisions rather than emotional ones.

7. Never assume that most people can evaluate the integrity of scientific research studies or interpret their findings. I will assist you in your understanding of the scientific process by providing an explanation of how the new information fits in with the current body of knowledge on the subject.

8. Never support the notion that to “binge,” “splurge” or “cheat” when eating is compatible with good health. I will evaluate the underlying reasons for these potentially abusive eating behaviors and attitudes and help you establish a more balanced approach to making your food choices.

9. Never imply that losing weight can be quick, simple or effortless. I will remind you that eating is a complex behavior and we don’t understand all of the factors that influence it. Changing your eating habits and level of physical activity is a slow and difficult process, but with help it is possible to establish a healthier lifestyle.

10. Never profess that we know everything about our nutritional needs and how to best meet them. I will acknowledge that the science of human nutrition is young and still evolving and I remain open to new discoveries.

Please sign up below if you want to take the Pledge:

If you take dietary supplements, follow these guidelines for best results.

Dietary Supplements Use Increases as We Age

FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES IF TAKING DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS

More than one half of American adults take dietary supplements. Women are bigger users than men and the use of dietary supplements is steadily rising among those over age 60. If you are among the crowd that takes a daily multivitamin or any self-selected nutrient, herb or related product, there are some important guidelines you should follow.

First, you must remember that no matter how compelling the advertising for dietary supplements may be, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require that the manufacturers prove the safety and effectiveness of their products before they are brought to market. That is left up to the consumer to decide. Do you have money to waste on products that don’t work or can do you harm?

The best way to know if you even need to take supplements is get a thorough dietary assessment from a registered dietitian to find out if there are nutrients missing from your usual diet. A dietitian can then help you decide whether they can be obtained by changes in what or how much you eat or if a supplement is recommended. Why take pills you don’t need?

If you are advised to take a supplement or are doing so on your own, follow these guidelines.

Guidelines for Dietary Supplement Users

  • Bring a current list with you to every doctor’s appointment naming all of the nutritional supplements you take, including the brand, how much of each and how often you take them. Bring it to each of the specialists who treat you as well as to visits with your primary care physician. You may not see a connection between your supplements and your skin condition, but your dermatologist might.
  • Provide a current list to your pharmacist of all of the supplements, over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications you take every time you get a new prescription filled. Ask for advice about potential interactions, side effects or contra-indications for their use.
  • Make a copy of the label for any multivitamin-mineral supplement or other combinations containing herbal and botanical products so the exact amounts of each item in it can be viewed, and offer it to your healthcare professionals. Copies can often be printed from the website for the brand.
  • Don’t assume more is better. Once you are consuming nutrients, herbs or botanicals in amounts that would not be possible if getting them by eating foods, they can be toxic.
  • Beware of the compounding effect that can occur when taking individual vitamin or mineral supplements, plus multivitamins, plus highly fortified foods, like some breakfast cereals, or meal replacement shakes and bars.
  • Don’t take all of your supplements and medications at one time and assume they can sort themselves out in your stomach. You may be canceling out the effectiveness of some and increasing the chance for complications with others.
  • Read the literature that comes with each medication and dietary supplement you take to learn when is the best time to take each, what to take with them and what not to take with them. Make a chart to help keep track of that information.

Would you like to cut down on the numbers of pills you take each day?

Daily protein requirements can come from plant and animal sources.

Getting Enough Protein From the Foods You Eat

Protein is available from plant and animal sources

If you read my November 4, 2011 post, Protein in the Diet – How Much is Enough?, then you should have a good idea of how many grams of protein a day you need at your current age, level of activity and state of health. Now let’s see how you can make the best food choices to deliver those 50-150 grams of protein a day.

What foods provide the best protein?

That’s really a trick question since all sources of protein are equally beneficial to the body. It was once believed that the protein from animal sources was better because it contains all of the essential amino acids, but that myth has been laid to rest. Protein from both plants and animals provide everything we need to stay healthy as long as we eat enough of it. And there is no need to combine certain foods at a meal to create “complete proteins,” either. Your body collects all of the amino acids from all of the food you eat so it can recombine them to make the new proteins you need.

How much protein is in a serving?

This is where it helps to know what the standard serving sizes look like for foods in each food group. ChooseMYPlate.gov provides detailed explanations of that. Using those serving sizes and the number of servings per day recommended in the 2000 calorie/day food plan in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, here’s where your protein would come from:

Daily Servings/Food Group Grams of Protein

2 cups Fruit 0 – 2

2 ½ cups Vegetables 4 – 8

6 oz. Grains 12 – 18

5 ½ oz. Meat, Beans, Nuts 32 – 38

3 cups Dairy 24

TOTAL PROTEIN 72 – 90 grams

The ranges vary for each group since some foods are higher in protein than others within each group. But worth noting is that if you choose the higher protein foods from the vegetable and grain groups you can get as many as 26 grams of protein a day from those sources in your diet.

You can also include more plant proteins by selecting the beans, nuts and seeds options from the “meat” group. Doing so gives you all the other benefits they come packaged with, like fiber and phytonutrients, without the saturated fat and cholesterol that comes with the protein found in most animal foods.

Bottom line: You do not have to count on just the meat and dairy foods to get all the protein you need.

Goals for Food Day matter every day of the year

Registered Dietitian’s Food Day Pledge Takes Aim at What’s Wrong With Most Advice

Food Day Pledge from registered dietitian lists 10 Things she will not do when giving food advice

Today is Food Day, a day to promote “healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way.” This I support. But some of the lofty ideas, biased language and unsupportable premises offered by the promoters I do not.

For example, the 6 Food Day Principles strive to both limit subsidies to agribusiness and alleviate hunger, even though you need the first to first to accomplish the second. The official Food Day cookbook, Eat Real, is described as a collection of delicious, healthful, easy-to-prepare recipes, yet includes “Braised Kohlrabi with Fennel & Leeks” and “Yogurt Panna Cotta with Cranberry Pear Sauce,” which just don’t sound real enough for most people I know.

Therefore I am taking a different approach. As a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist, I have prepared a pledge of the ten things I will not do on Food Day, or any other day of the year, because I believe they are contrary to health promotion and a sense of fairness to all of the people in America who need to hear messages about good nutrition.

Food Day Pledge From a Registered Dietitian

I hereby pledge not to:

  1. Blame any single food, beverage or ingredient for obesity. It’s a complex issue with many biological, environmental, behavioral and social implications. We don’t have all the answers but the shot-gun approach of targeting one thing as the cause doesn’t help.
  2. Use toxic language to describe otherwise edible food. Terms like “toxic,” “garbage” and “junk,” have no place in the conversation when a food is not spoiled or is otherwise safe to eat.
  3. Hide vegetables in other foods in order to get kids – or anyone else – to eat them. Only in America could such an idea flourish.
  4. Presume that the food supply and/or diets of Americans were actually better at some other time in history than they are right now. We simply weren’t micromanaging everything we ate in the past as we are today since most of history was dominated by a need to stay one step ahead of starvation.
  5. Submit to the idea that food advertising and brand marketing are more powerful than individual choice. They may lead us to the product, but we buy based on education, income and circumstances.
  6. Profess that we know all that there is to know about our nutritional needs and how to meet them. The science of human nutrition is young and still evolving, so I will always be ready for more breakthroughs.
  7. Let the rapid rate at which news travels via the Internet undermine the slow and methodical pace of scientific discovery. Changes in dietary guidance are not based on single studies or viral videos.
  8. Forget that most Americans do not live near a farmer’s market or other local source for year round produce. Frozen and canned vegetables are two of the best values in the grocery store.
  9. Ignore the fact that there is no such thing as “The American Diet.” Food consumption survey data is at best a fuzzy snapshot of what some people ate for a few days of the year, as best as they could remember and describe it. That does not tell the whole story.
  10. Overlook the uniqueness of each person’s diet as a reflection of his or her cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-economic heritage and, most importantly, personal tastes.