Darya Pino Rose

I'm Darya Rose (formerly Darya Pino) and this is my personal blog. I'm the author of Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME's 50 Best Websites. I'm also a neuroscience Ph.D, NYC foodist, former dieter, & soulmate to .

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Monday
Jan312011

I'm kind of a big deal (and more on new the dietary guidelines)

This morning I put on my best Veronica Corningstone and made an appearance on News Nation on MSNBC. They called me yesterday and asked if I could make a comment on the new USDA Dietary Guidelines that were to be announced this morning. I jumped at the opportunity, and was looking forward to skewering the government for putting the US Dept of Agriculture (industry lobbyists) in charge of our dietary guidelines instead of the more appropriate FDA or HHS (public health advocates).

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find the new guidelines are a huge improvement over the last set issued in 2005. I cheerily sent MSNBC my revised talking points and headed down to the studio.

I guess they didn't get the message, however, because the segment was focused almost entirely on salt reduction--something I don't find particularly interesting. Needless to say I was not prepared to answer why the FDA singled out African-Americans to reduce salt intake. I apologize for my bumbling non-answer.

The show was still fun though. My favorite part being when anchor Tamron Hall exclaimed, "I don't remember the last time I ate a vegetable!"

Yikes.

Since I didn't get to make my points on air, I've included my thoughts on the new guidelines below. As noted above, I'm most impressed that the guidelines for the first time emphasize health over lobbying efforts. We still haven't seen the revised Food Pyramid (coming in a couple months), but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Highlights from the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2010

  • For the first time they prominently focus on the obesity epidemic and the population's need to lose weight. Emphasis on EATING LESS unhealthy foods.
  • Eat less: "solid fats" aka saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt and refined grains. This is unfortunately a little cryptic.
  • Translation: Eat less junk and processed foods
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Yes!
  • Eat more nutrient dense foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lowfat dairy, seafood, lean meats/poultry, beans, nuts & seeds. Agreed! Though I consider dairy optional.
  • I'm happy they emphasized eating more whole foods, not just nutrients.
  • "Half your plate should be vegetables." Woohoo!
  • Good emphasis on replacing less healthy choices with healthier ones (e.g "solid fats" with healthy oils, refined grains with whole grains, meat with seafood)
  • Emphasis on physical activity is good, though this has very little impact on energy balance since even strenuous exercise burns relatively few calories.
  • Generally a huge improvement, now the challenge is to make the message clear to the public.

 The entire segment is in the video above. Can you tell I tried to dress like a grown up?

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Reader Comments (11)

I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. Yes, this poses a challenge for us to make the message clear but what a great opportunity to spread the word!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen Brentano

I wish they would have cut back to you when she made the comment about vegetables, would have been funny to see the look on your face!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFranz

@Franz They actually caught it, I was laughing in disbelief!

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

I can't help but wonder if "less saturated fats" is going to translate into more Crisco & "I can't believe it's not butter" for many people?

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrok

Healthy oils? Vegetable oils are not healthy oils. For many reasons. Saturated fat, on the other hand, has no known ill effects for people, and yet they want you to switch from the healthy option to the unhealthy option. That's not something to be commended.

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTuck

Hi Darya! ! love your sight and think you were excellent yesterday.

I did want to add something to your comment on the salt reduction, however. While most people don't "have" to be concerned with their salt intake, there is a huge population whose health can be greatly improved by lowering their use of salt. And yes, we've heard this all before. So let's get to the point: how does it concern the general public?

Well besides the fact that the new suggested intake is 2,300 (which is equal to 1 teaspoon of salt) and 1,500 for 50% of Americans, by being more aware of sodium and cutting down on sodium, one has to cut out packaged goods and processed foods (which account for 75% of the sodium people consume). It forces people to fill half of their plates with fruit and vegetables instead; to eat less sugar, fat, and junk; to eat more whole foods; and to basically follow all the new guidelines.

So while I am no way trying to start a salt revolution - it has its place for taste - I think looking at a product's sodium content is truly a good indicator of healthy food. It is easy to reach this new 1,500 limit with just the natural amount of sodium that occurs in foods and, for those who do not have to watch their intake daily, I suggest beginning to turn that bottle or cardboard package around to see how much salt it contains. You'll be surprised and you might just make another choice.

Cheers to healthy eatings!

Oh, and the part about targeting the African American community comes from higher rates of heart and kidney disease - conditions which can both be greatly improved by a low sodium diet. Hope this helps.

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSodium Girl

@sodiumgirl Totally agree that the issue with salt is the processed foods and thx for the extra info. Fortunately processed foods with reduced salt taste pretty horrible, so maybe people will turn to real food for the sake of taste bud preservation ;)

February 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDarya

So impressed! Wow, not sure I'd have the guts to do live tv like you did. Keep on rocking lady.

February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Seafood is full of mercury, soy is mostly GMO, and milk is full of hormones. Please don't tell me I'll be healthier if I consume more of these....

February 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Hi Darya - I just want to say I love you for using the Anchorman references! :)

And hooray for the new guidelines! We've been trying to follow these for some time (obviously from other sources, since the federal ones just came out). My husband has slight hypertension, so we work hard to keep excess salt out of our diet. It's getting a little easier as more and more foods come out with low sodium or no salt versions, but I hope this new guideline will make it MUCH easier. Obviously, if we could stay away from processed foods altogether it wouldn't be a problem, but unfortunately, that is not easy to accomplish with our busy lifestyles today.

And, you ARE kind of a big deal. I'm sure you have many leather-bound books, and your apartment smells of rich mahogany.
:)

February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Wolfe Riley

I wanted to add that since we've been paying attention to sodium, I've been shocked by the HUGE amounts of sodium in some foods! Especially canned soups, but many other foods that one wouldn't suspect, too. Just like cutting down on sugar, cutting down on salt requires your tastebuds to adjust - now I can really taste the salt in foods that have too much, and it's gross.

February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie Wolfe Riley
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