Growing up in the 90s, health education was ever-present in my middle- and high-school years.
One stark memory I have was around fifth- or sixth-grade. In one of my classes, we were presented with this colorful pyramid thingie that featured all of the major food groups. We were told that we should eat the most from the bottom and eat less and less as we move up the pyramid. It made sense to me because, well, I was 10, and I bought pretty much anything my teachers told me as long as we were let out for recess every day.
Well, before the end of the decade, I knew that food pyramid was full of crap. I knew what was good for me and what was bad, even if it took me another 10 years to get my act together and finally battle the bulge. Why so many servings of carbohydrates, my personal number-one enemy? Why so little qualification of the “bad” (yet healthy) fats and oils at the top of the pyramid?
No, the purpose of that food pyramid was not to make us more intelligent and thoughtful consumers of nourishment. The purpose was to spoon feed us something for mass consumption that offered little in the way of dietetic nuance or just simple honesty. In short, it was a pretty illustration that didn’t allow for much critical thinking of the most important part: Not what we ate, but how we ate.
And now the government has gone and done it again. They’ve admitted that — 20 years later — perhaps the food pyramid isn’t an appropriate illustration of what we should be eating. Instead, let’s do something a little more of this continent and a little less Egyptian. So later this week, the USDA will be unveiling its new design — a dinner plate! I will give the USDA and Obama Administration some credit. This is a much more natural and obvious choice if one is going to attempt to illustrate the means of proper eating.
This new design will go heavy on the fruits and veggies and will attempt to do a better job of qualifying “good choices” from each of the food groups as opposed to lumping such no-nos as “white bread” in with the grains portion.
But is white bread really the enemy? Is ice cream really the enemy? An occasional Snickers bar? Most who’ve followed me over the years know of my struggles with weight and my eventual ability to conquer my weight-loss battles. Truth be told, I took nothing the government — or anyone, for that matter — told me and applied it to my own diet. I took control of my own life and came to a realization that talk is talk. The government, my doctor, Richard Simmons, and Oprah Winfrey could talk that talk, but until I switched off the TV and walked the walk, I would remain 350 pounds.
I will say it again: I TOOK CONTROL. It’s the only way one can lose weight. Accept you have a problem, set goals, and do something about it! Is it nice seeing the government and Michelle Obama attempt to sow the seeds of health in all of us? Yes, but let’s be honest: There’s no way a colorful pyramid or plate of food will change anything unless you’ve harbored a want to change yourself. And that means one thing: Get the heck up and MOVE! Right now. Stop reading this article, head out into the heat and humidity with a bottle of cold water and walk around the block. Tomorrow, walk around the block twice. On the next day, walk around the block three times, but pick up your pace.
You don’t need to change WHAT you eat, but change HOW MUCH of it you eat. As one who lost 150 pounds eating things like homemade ice cream and lots of hamburgers, I guarantee you’ll notice a difference, especially if you have a substantial amount of weight to lose.
Growing up as a fat kid in the 90s, obesity seemed to be a touchy subject no one approached with quite the gentle fervor it gets these days. Well I’m glad it seems one of the many bastions of political correctness — obesity — is finally being knocked down. Our country can’t afford to not address this ever-growing problem. I applaud the government for addressing this topic, but I wish it would go further in getting the message across to us without relying on colorful graphics to do the job.
*Because TownSquare Delaware is not in the business of getting sued, I suppose I should mention that you should consult a doctor before beginning any weight-loss plan or exercise regiment.