As many of you have heard by now, in their infinite wisdom Congress has decided to declare pizza a vegetable. When news of this broke about 2 weeks ago my Facebook Newsfeed lit up like a Christmas tree as everyone in the fitness community (who make up about 70% of my FB friends) was outraged. I, on the other hand, could not have been more pleased.
Now I love pizza and it has been a favorite cheat meal for a long time. My wife and I even have a tradition of going out for pizza every year on our anniversary. We do live in Brooklyn, after all. But my joy over our government’s decision to put pizza up there with asparagus and cauliflower on the veggie list was not because I now felt justified to eat a couple of slices as side dish to a delicious elk burger. What’s got me excited is that the government food recommendations, which have been terrible since the inception of the USDA and the ADA (both government run agencies), are finally becoming transparent. That’s right folks, when it comes to your waistline, shockingly, the government is not in your corner.
There are so many examples of bad decision making when it comes to the history of governmental dietary recommendations that it is hard to pinpoint the worst ones. Probably my all time favorite is the Food Pyramid recommending that we all get 6-11 servings of grains/carbohydrates per day. This came out a couple of decades ago and led to the low-fat craze that brought us such wonders as low-fat Snack Well cookies. Interestingly, these recommendations coincided with the beginning of the worst obesity epidemic in the history of humankind.
Sometimes the USDA does get it correct and at one point did recommend that Americans avoid sugar as it can lead to negative health impact and unwanted weigh gain. Unfortunately a very strong sugar and soft drink lobby got that sentiment removed before it ever went to print.
Inadequate exercise recommendations, overuse of carbohydrate and dairy product, mineral depletion of soil, overdependence on agriculture and overall confusing messaging (they’ve redone the food pyramid/my plate several times not only because science and politics changed, but because after several focus groups they determined that the majority of people did not even understand the recommendations) have all been part of the history that is Congress’ nutrtitional plan for it’s citizens.
The reason I am ranting on this is not because I am a government hater nor am I a consipracy theorist who has watched one too many episodes of the X Files. I just want you all to be aware that following the USDA and ADA’s recommendations may not always be the best thing for your body. I was actually considering studying for a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and decided not to persue it because I knew that I could not in good conscience follow the recommendations and uphold the standards of the American Dietetic Association. Unfortunately, that’s what registered dieticians have to do. The demonization of the supplement industry, the overuse of grains and dairy products as food sources and the ease in which fast food restaurants can essentially feed our citizens poison is what has led the world to synonomously term a “bad diet” an “American Diet”. My only hope is that with such a transparent and well publicized declaration that “pizza as vegetable” will make people think twice about what Congress tells and allows us to put in our mouths and get sound nutritional advice from those of us who have not led to the 2/3 obesity rate we are now seeing in our country.
Now, potato chips on the other hand…..