Thursday, January 13, 2005

I'm a mess.

The USDA released its new dietary guidelines for 2005, and I am hosed. I try to eat well, I try to stay fit, and yet....

You can hit the high points here, but you have probably already heard the summaries on the news. It is worth having a look at the detailed report, unless like me, you start feeling inadequate when you realize what a mess you are.

Chapter 4 recommends 60-90 minutes of exercise every day to lose weight or sustain weight loss. Presently I swim 5 days a week, usually for 1:15 - 2:00, depending on the day. But that wipes me out, and i have to rest up on the other days! That means that over the course of the week I have about 7:30 of exercise, which barely meets the recommended minimum. No wonder I have a problem with these hips.

Chapter 4 also notes: "It is important during leisure time to limit sedentary behaviors, such as television watching and video viewing, and replace them with activities requiring more movement." Does typing count as more movement?

Chapter 9 will tell you that if you drink alcohol, you should drink in moderation, which means up to one drink per day for women. Please. Sure, there are days I don't drink, and there are days I have only one beer or a single glass of wine. Still, I bet my glass of wine is more than their meagre 5-ounce serving! And how many days do I do my share to polish off a bottle of wine with The Patient Partner? As their pullquote stoically suggests, "Alcoholic beverages supply calories but few essential nutrients." I suppose that means that Guinness is not as much of a power drink as I thought. The only good news I can find here is at the very end of the section about alcohol: "In middle-aged and older adults, a daily intake of one to two alcoholic beverages per day is associated with lowest all-cause mortality." Come on, middle age! Or wait--am I already there???

I do appreciate this point from the Executive Summary:
A basic premise of the Dietary Guidelines is that nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts. However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet.

Should be a no-brainer, and yet.

I am also happy to see explicit mention of trans-fats, about which I have been concerned.

Have a look at the charts showing what foods provide what nutrients. Who knew that clams were such an excellent source of iron?

For those of us who aspire to improve, the USDA has kindly prepared a chart showing how much of each food group to eat depending on the calorie needs of your diet. I have a lot of work to do to achieve what they suggest (hello, green leafy vegetables), but I'll see what I can do.

Nota bene, USDA. I am not giving up the wine. Period.

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