The War on Food Plates

IMG_9829Can someone really learn everything there is to know about living a healthy lifestyle from one government sponsored color-coded plate?  What about micronutrients?  What about vitamin supplements?  What about fitness goals other than simply sustaining life?

As a nutrition student, the information provided in the documents is quite familiar.  In several classes I have compared the two plates and prefer Harvard’s plate as a single document.  I like it best because “all” of the information is included on the one page, whereas the MyPlate version includes additional pages.  If additional pages are needed, consumers might as well just read about the nutritional background of the plate defeating the purpose of the concise plate format all together.  Growing up, it was always just a poster of the pyramid on the wall in classrooms, not a brochure about every group, let the teachers teach the information so kids get the whole story.  I like the activity reminder on the plate, but think the plate could have done without the little quips like, “Potatoes and french fries don’t count!”  These comments are further condescending to the layman using the plate for help on a topic about which he is likely already unsure.

As a student spending years in school to become a dietician, it is frustrating to see the government try to condense all that information into a colorful plate.  For what?  The plate needs further explaining anyway, why not just do the explaining and leave the plate out of it?  Maybe the graphic designing funds could go to increasing nutrition education in schools instead.  A classic quote from Michelle Obama perfectly describes the amount of effort parents are expected to put into feeding their kids properly with the help of the oversimplified plate, “Parents don’t have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of chicken or to look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. … But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates.”  It really is hilarious.  Parents “do not have time” to ask Siri how much broccoli a growing child needs, but they can eyeball a quarter of a plate and call it good.  How big is the plate?  Does it really take that much extra time to put chicken on a scale and then the plate than just straight to the plate?  Can the parent explain to the kids the importance of eating that much broccoli?

The proportions are roughly the same in both plates, although Harvard’s plate features a smaller portion of fruits.  Again, it is all a marketing scheme, the orange growers in Florida probably would not be happy if the USDA limited them to a tiny corner of the plate.  The proportions only apply to a person attempting to achieve general good health.  They do not account for other fitness goals, like muscle growth or extended physical activity endurance.The plates both leave out the importance of micronutrients.  I also wonder if the USDA could be swayed by dairy producers to make the glass larger on the plate, where the Harvard plate seems less biased, but does not account for the importance of calcium in the diet.

The “Ending the War on Fat” video spends more than 4 of its 5 minutes poking fun at the old science of fats and related guidelines.  We get it, the science was not all there back then… The narrator then gives only a few sentences in the last seconds about the current food fad, “Eating whole foods.”  Likely in a couple years they’ll be making fun of the “post-war on fat” videos, as food science continues to progress.  Today, it seems funny that they would think eliminating fat would cause fat loss, but that was the science they had then.  I think the video could have made better use of its time talking about current ideas rather than slamming old ones.  The video does not relate to the layout of either food plates and offers no real advice.  The video does offer a simplified explanation of cholesterol that is almost so simplified that it becomes more complicated.  The video partially relates to the way the Harvard plate includes “healthy fats” and the way the MyPlate has a note about solid fats avoidance.  The video should be only viewed for entertainment, if that, and not used as a teaching device.

IMG_9820For my meal, I chose to make a brunch.  I slept in and did my cardio and was starving by the time I was done.  I used the Harvard plate and did not have to modify my meal much because I eat pretty well as it is.  I needed to add a vegetable because I do not usually eat vegetables for breakfast, but a spinach smoothie solved that problem, also upping my fruit intake.  All of these are recipes I have made before.  Usually I eat only the eggs and peanut butter oatmeal, but I jazzed it up for this challenge.  All this jazz added more carbs and sugar than I would normally eat for a meal, but since I am calling it “brunch” it all works out.  I usually work my diet out so that it is well balanced all day not each meal.  This whole plate idea gets a little skewed when you’re snacking on stuff through out the day. The meal boasts a great macro ratio, 12g of fiber, and half a day’s worth of calcium.

Strawberry Banana Green Smoothie
IMG_98211/2 banana
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 T chia seeds
1 scoop creatine
1 scoop glutamine
1 scoop strawberry whey
water for consistency

olive oil sprayIMG_9823
4 egg whites
1 slice turkey bacon, diced
1 T shredded parmesan

Peanut Butter Banana Power Pancakes
coconut oil spray
1/2 cup Kodiak power cakes whole grain pancake mix
1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
1/2 banana, diced
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1 1/2 T peanut butter

747 kcal, 67g protein, 66g carbohydrates, 22g fat

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