Wednesday, January 12, 2005

News - Dietary Guidelines 2005

I have a gripe. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) came out today with their updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.

Here are a few of their key recommendations:

Daily Exercise

  • To prevent chronic disease: 30 minutes a day, moderate intensity - "above usual activity" but "more vigorous intensity or longer duration" exercise is better for most people.
  • To prevent weight gain: 60 minutes a day, moderate to vigorous intensity.
  • For weight loss: 60 to 90 minutes a day, moderate intensity.
Daily Diet

  • 2 cups fruit (whole fruit, not juice)
  • 2.5 cups vegetables (whole vegetables, not juice)
  • 3 cups low- or no-fat milk products (no apologies for lactose intolerance, even though the government states that up to 50 million Americans, 75% of African Americans and Native Americans, and 90% of Asian Americans are afflicted.)
  • Half of your grain-based foods should come from whole grains (not foods made with flour)
Here's my gripe:

Hours in a day: 24

Hours needed in a day to perform basic activities, not addressing these new guidelines: 22.3:

  • Sleep: 8.0
  • Hygiene, morning: 0.5
  • Hygiene, evening: 0.5
  • Dress, morning: 0.25
  • Dress, evening: 0.25
  • Work: 8.0
  • Commute to work: 0.5
  • Commute from work: 0.5
  • Make, eat, clean up breakfast: 0.5
  • Make (or order), eat, clean up lunch: 0.5
  • Make, eat, clean up dinner: 1.0
  • Mail, bills, emails, PDA, phone calls: 0.5
  • Laundry, ironing, dry cleaning: 0.3
  • Say hello to spouse and children and ask how their day went: 0.5
  • Run one errand (after-school activity, grocery store, gas station): 0.5
This leaves 1.7 hours in a day. Can you think of something you do on a regular basis that would cut into this time? Do you have a child or other dependant to care for? Do you have a pet to walk, feed, pet? Plants or a lawn to tend to? Do you like to take maybe 30 minutes a day to read a book, magazine, browse the internet, maintain a blog, meditate, or pray? Do you take more than 30 minutes in the morning to brush, floss, eliminate, shower, shave, dry hair, put on moisterizer/sunscreen/makeup? Is your commute, from the moment you leave the house until the moment you clock in, exactly 30 minutes? Do you like to hug and kiss? Do you regularly call your parents, children, friends, etc. and talk for more than, say, 15 minutes at a time? Do you follow sports? ... any TV?

Well, our government wants you to stop doing some of the above (what would you cut out?) so that you can:

  • Exercise for at least 60 minutes a day, 90 minutes if you have to lose weight (not counting time to dress for it, commute to/from it, shower after it).
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains that don't lend themselves to 10 minutes from the freezer, to the microwave, to your plate. And since they aren't in the freezer, require more stops during the week to the grocery store. And since you'll be cooking more, you'll have more pots, pans, and dishes to clean. Does this extra food shopping, cooking, and cleaning come without a time cost?
My gripe is that it's easy to tell someone what to do to get/stay healthy. But it's unrealistic and irresponsible to make recommendations that are almost impossible to follow given the structure of today's lifestyle. It takes the monkey off their back; it doesn't solve the problem.

(Here's an alternative.)

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