Last updated on April 18th, 2017
“Faced with decades of explosively increasing numbers of obese people and diabetics the US government answer is to find a more effective way to give the exact same fat phobic advice.” Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt
The United States Department of Agriculture has unleashed its Food Plate, a replacement for the venerable Food Pyramid.
As you can see, it is actually a plate plus a glass and a fork, and darn colorful. The general idea is to show Americans how to eat a healthy meal. The U.S. government has been trying to teach Americans how to eat for several decades now, and as Gary Taubes and others have demonstrated, has mostly succeeded in making people fatter and less healthy than when the effort began. Yes, I know, it is difficult to believe that the United States Government could mess up like that; no doubt it is a rare event. But consider this from Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health: “The country’s big low-fat message backfired. The overemphasis on reducing fat caused the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar in our diets to soar.” Dr. Hu believes that dietary shift is related to “the biggest health problems in America today” (link).
I thought it would be useful, or at least amusing, to review the five food categories on the new Food Plate from the perspective of my low-carbohydrate diet. Basically, it is a matter of crossing out a few items in each category. (OK, in some cases, a lot of items.)
Note that I say my low-carb diet. I don’t claim to be an expert on low-carb diets or a spokesperson for anyone besides myself. Frankly, I crossed out some items because I don’t like them and would never eat them, low-carb or not. The food lists were taken from the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate web site. So here we go.
Berries are OK in my book, and I would add blackberries to the USDA’s berry list. Probably most other fruits will work on a low carb diet if you strictly limit your servings and serving size — but so far I have avoided everything except berries. Maybe someday I will eat a small apple, peach or pear. Not fruit juices, though. Fruit juice has all the sweetness with most of the fiber removed. Small amounts of lemon and lime juice in cooking are fine.
fruit cocktail Nectarines
100% Fruit juice:
I confess. A couple of times a week I mix a quarter-cup of rolled oats with a tablespoon of flaxseed meal and water for breakfast. I put butter and cream on top, and I may stir in a few berries. It’s my cereal fix. Also once or twice a week I eat tuna salad in a whole wheat tortilla (3g net carbs for the tortilla). That’s about it for grains for me.
bulgur (cracked wheat)
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals:
whole wheat cereal flakes
whole grain barley
whole grain cornmeal
whole wheat bread
whole wheat crackers
whole wheat pasta
whole wheat sandwich buns and rolls
whole wheat tortillas
wild rice Refined grains ***PROTEIN***
Now we are getting to the meat of the matter! Since going low-carb, I haven’t eaten any game meat, duck eggs or liver. But, except for the liver, I would eat them. And I might even eat liver if it were in something. So I left game meat and liver on the list.
Lean cuts of:
Lean ground meats:
Lean luncheon or deli meats
ground chicken and turkey
Beans and peasI do ingest some soy simply because it is hard to avoid soy these days. But I am trying to avoid it.
Seafood and fish — Yes!
Nuts and seeds:
peanut butter (the kind that is just peanuts and salt)
I notice that the USDA classifies corn as a vegetable. All this time, I thought it was a grain! But as an agency of the federal government, the USDA ought to be able to tell a grain from a vegetable. So I crossed it out in this section instead of crossing it out in the grain section. Potatoes are the other big deletion here.
Dark green vegetables:
dark green leafy lettuce
Red & orange vegetables:
Beans and peas:
black-eyed peas (mature, dry)
garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
fresh cowpeas, field peas, or black-eyed peas (not dry)
green lima beans
iceberg (head) lettuce
I noticed that the USDA accidentally left half-and-half and heavy whipping cream off the list, so I added them under milk. Just trying to be helpful. I have tried a low-carb, milk-based, chocolate-flavored drink made by Atkins. I might try no-sugar-added ice cream someday.
low fat (1%)
reduced fat (2%)
ice cream Calcium-fortified soymilk
hard natural cheeses:
whole milk yogurt
Regarding beverages, the USDA gives a piece of advice that fits my practice well: “Drink water instead of sugary drinks.”
(This article was originally posted on my JimA’s blog on June 3, 2011.)