We could learn A LOT from Brazils new dietary guidelines – Will America ever be able to follow suit?

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First it was the pyramid… Now the plate… Who knows what the FDA will come up with next in regards to providing the public with a healthy food consumption guideline. But do these food guidelines really help us live a healthier lifestyle? Do they guide us into understanding what we really should and shouldn’t be eating? The answer is a loud resounding NO. And the reason why is pretty simple. The FDA is in bed with the the big food processing companies, pharmaceutical companies, and dirty agriculture. This forces them to skate a fine line between “trying” to provide sound healthy nutritional advice to the general public and still not manage to piss off the companies that are funding them.

The end result… A confused public that scratches their head each and every time a new food guideline, research, or information comes to light. So maybe we need to look elsewhere for some sound advice. Brazil has recently released their new dietary guidelines which we could actually benefit from, A LOT! Instead of a visual that tries to box everyone into the same way of eating, they came up with a list of guidelines that will actually help people make personalized decisions that can lead them to a truly healthier life. They also take into consideration mindfulness and the social aspect to eating.  And the best part. They are based on eating REAL food.

Brazils New Dietary Guidelines

The Guides 3 Golden Rules:

  • Make foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals the basis of your diet.
  • Be sure oils, fats, sugar and salt are used in moderation in culinary preparations.
  • Limit the intake of ready-to-consume products and avoid those that are ultra-processed.

The 10 Guidelines:

  1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
  2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
  3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
  4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
  5. Eat in company whenever possible.
  6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
  7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
  8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
  9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
  10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.

So let’s break them down shall we?

1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods. – Instead of grabbing the quick packaged items that are easy to consume and full of who knows what, this guideline is directing people to quite simply eat real food. Fresh is not a boxed item that no longer resembles its beginning form; if it was actually food to begin with. Fresh means being able to identify what you are eating. Understanding what part of our natural environment it comes from. Focusing on staple “real food” items. Sugar is not a staple item yet is a huge component of packaged and processed foods. This guideline alone is taking away our love of sugar and asking people to rely on the items their bodies need to function and be efficient. Real carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Foods that are full of nutrients and enzymes that sustain life. And let’s not skip over the word prepare. This is a guide for people to make their own foods. Encouraging individuals to reconnect with their food. When you have to prepare your food, you become more mindful and conscious of what you are eating and the effect it is having / will have on your body. Preparing your own food, forces you to eat real food as well.

2. Use oils, fats, sugar, and salts in moderation. – They don’t provide information on what types should be consumed or how much. They are just stating to make sure these items are not a prime contributor to food consumption. Although I strongly feel we are a fat deprived country and need to do the opposite in regards to fat, this would also take some education as to what types of fats need to be consumed. Still, this is sound advice for the “average” person since again this directs us away from processed foods due to their high content of these items.

3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products. – Well stated. This ties directly into guideline #1. As ready-to-consume food and drink products by and large are not real food. They are laden with highly refined ingredients that have gone through a heavy chemical processing. Our bodies can’t adequately digest these items and they lead to the inflammation and chronic illness issues we are facing today.

4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments. – I really love this guideline. It brings to light the subject of mindfulness. How many times do we scarf down food because we are starving being completely unaware of what we are truly eating, how fast, or how much? It is proven that when people are more mindful when they eat (paying attention to their eating and being present in the moment) they make better food choices and digestion is drastically improved. Eating in the car on the run is NOT and appropriate environment. Appropriate is at a table, sitting, with no distractions. This simple action has shown to have amazing effects for individuals. It is impressive that Brazil has included this concept into their dietary guidelines.

5. Eat in company whenever possible. – When we eat with people, we tend to slow down our eating and again make better food choices. Instead of eating boxed foods, we tend to eat proper meals. And slowing down our eating (as well as chewing food thoroughly) allows more efficient digestion. This equates to more regulated body pH, lowered incidence of swallowing air, more readily absorbed nutrients, lessening the stress placed on the digestive system which can decrease inflammation.

6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption. – Wow! THey can’t emphasize enough consuming fresh foods that have minimal to no processing. This addresses WHERE to purchase your foods. Places that offer a variety of fresh foods with minimal to no processing are going to be providing much more nutrient dense foods. These types of foods help us fight obesity and chronic illness.

7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking. – They’re asking people to get back in to the kitchen. Another stab at guiding people to reconnect with their food. This guideline also is asking people to be responsible for one another. By sharing your skills in food preparation and cooking, you are teaching and educating those around you. We all learn from each other with creates not only a higher sense of community –  sense of community = healthier longevity (proven through centenarian cultures) – but also highlights that emphasis on connecting with your food. When we connect with our food, we tend to eat healthier, digest better, and set our bodies up to fight illness.

8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space. – Slow down eating and space meals out appropriately wether it’s getting that lunch time meal in or allowing enough time for digestion before the next meal. These all bring us into awareness of our food and food consumption. We need to fuel our bodies to keep them running efficiently. Waiting until your starving to decide on that next meals places our bodies into a starvation cycle where our brain responds by signaling for fat. We interpret that signal as the quickest form of energy we can find which is sugar. Our will power is much much lower when we are hungry so instead of making a logical decision to eat a healthy properly prepared meal, we reach for something sweet and highly processed. Planning is key.

9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains. – This ties back into #6. Fast food chains provide us with no nourishment.

10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products. – LOVE this guideline. We shouldn’t believe everything that is being sold to us. Remember the food manufacturers and products are out there to make money. They may tell you their healthy but that’s because they have done a lot of research and know thats what they need to say or do in order for you to purchase your product. Yes, Weight Watchers may have temporarily helped people lose weight, but that does not mean their packaged foods are good for you. They have simply designed a system that has proven to get people to act a certain way and provide certain results in order for them to make money and become profitable. 95% of people who diet go right back to the way they were before. So remember that all the advertising and promised out there are for the benefit of the business, not you.

So the premise of these guidelines is to eat REAL whole foods and be aware of what, when, and how you are eating. We, as a society, Brazil and America, and many other countries at that, could really benefit from reconnecting with our food. We have moved so far away from the foods we eat that we don’t even know where many of them come from… From the earth or from a factory?

We definitely would be in a good starting place to follow these guidelines. We can also provide comments to our Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to recommend a better approach to what and how to eat. Maybe even commenting that these guidelines are the way to go. Simply click the link above to give them your piece of mind.

In the meantime, focus on real whole foods and leave the packages on the shelf.

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