The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally been released. There are good and bad news. The new guidelines, for the first time, attempt to focus on foods and dietary patterns. Previous editions focused primarily on food groups and nutrients. However, people do not eat food groups and nutrients in isolation but rather in combination, and the totality of one’s diet forms an overall eating pattern. Still much of the recommendations fall short of expectations, and I would say that all in all the guidelines are another win for the meat-, soda- and junk food industries.
I just returned from a two-day conference that was organized by Oldways, a non-profit organization with focus on culinary and cultural diversity around the globe. Decades ago, its founder, Dun Gifford, became concerned with the progressive disappearance of many culinary traditions in favor of what he called “techno foods.” Why does your culture matter when it comes to your food choices, he asked. Because – no matter where you come from – it is not in your heritage to become overweight, diabetic, or develop heart disease and cancer, all the leading causes of death in the modern world. What we all should have in common as our birthright is a healthy heart, a strong body, extraordinary energy, and a long and healthy life – all of which we would be enabled to by access to nutritious and delicious foods.
It’s supposed to be to most wonderful time of the year. But for many people the holiday season is anything but joyous. Feeling left out when others celebrate and exchange gifts can be devastating and even lead to despair and depression. The so-called “holiday blues” are actually widespread, and if you are affected by them, you are certainly not alone.
Can vegetarians get enough protein? What about antibiotics in meat? Do artificial sweeteners cause cancer? These are just a few of the questions that people often ask me in their quest for eating more healthily and adhering to a quality diet. They feel so confused by the plethora of conflicting messages they are receiving. To dispel some of this confusion, respected food and nutrition experts addressed some hot topics at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (AND) 2015 Convention.
We do it twice a year without giving it too much thought. Come spring, we turn our clocks by one hour forward, in autumn we dial them back again. It’s called daylight saving time, and it affects about 1.5 billion people around the globe. For the vast majority no particular problems arise from this, but time changes do affect everyone who is exposed to them in more or less noticeable ways.
The fact that people make (or have to make) themselves constantly available via cell phones and social media increases the risk of “burnout,” commonly defined as physical or mental collapse by overwork or stress, experts warn. The pressure of always being within reach can affect how our brains function. Over time, this may lead to lasting damages. To counteract this, we need regular breaks and time out to recover.
You would have thought, “the older, the wiser.” But when it comes to diet and lifestyle choices, today’s young people seem to be doing better than any living generation before them. As surveys show, consumers in their 20s and early 30s have the greatest interest in the nutritional quality of their food as well as how it is produced and how it impacts the environment.