Topple the Food Pyramid

foodpyramid

Who in their right mind honestly believes that a given individual’s diet should be guided by a blanket prescription for everyone? Who actually thinks that people should eat a whopping six to eleven servings of grains, cereals, breads, starches, and so on, while restricting their daily intake of say, meat, to a mere two or three servings? Remind me why everyone should eat like a farm animal in a stable… I don’t recall our ancestors, forced to hunt and gather, wasting all day collecting cheap tall dry grass to smash into a powder then subsequently mixing it with water and baking it. Granted, I wasn’t alive back then, so I suppose I wouldn’t remember such a thing anyway.

The logic still stands though: why should the foods we evolved to eat (meats, fruits, berries, vegetables, nuts, etc.) be dietarily subjugated to what essentially amounts to filler? Sure, grains contain some nutrients, with whole grain containing more nutrients but also the propensity to make you take on weight and illness from unhealthy cholesterol, glycogen and plant fats. Grains also partially prevent absorption of important minerals like calcium and zinc by means of phytic acid (which whole grain contains more of), while increasing the rapidity at which stores of vitamins, such as Vitamin D, are channeled out of the body. Wheat is also known to be harmful to the lining of the digestive tract in animals.

So why are we a species that typically eats large amounts of this stuff, while skimping on things like the flesh of other animals? Sure, eating barracuda will likely make you sick, but am I really supposed to believe that a few bowls of cereal and a Subway sandwich with a slice of ham and some lettuce is healthier than a fat steak and a hearty salad? Sure, they pump Cheerios full of vitamins and minerals, but the medium they employ is well-known to be quite unconducive to the absorption of said nutrients anyway. It is also well-known that there was a large lobbying push from “big agriculture” during the USDA’s invention of the food pyramid to push grains to the forefront of the American diet in order to make cheap and simple crops more profitable. Besides, it is not hard for one to imagine the incentives involved in keeping your average rube of a citizen fat, slow, and unhealthy, or at least moreso when considering the aggregate, anyway.

I personally have stomach problems that make grains incredibly problematic for my health and quality of life, so I will admit my bias here instead of waiting for you to discover the source of it in another article of mine, or in a bar when you become ecstatic to meet such a gorgeous specimen as myself and I end up getting drunk and talking about constipation. However, that does not mean that the scientific findings involving grains and related foodstuffs in regards to nutrition and health problems are invalid. I don’t see any reason that the average person would be better off eating foods packed with molecules that are difficult to break down and lie outside of what has proven evolutionarily advantageous. Do you really think the ancients would have been better off eating fattening, sugary wheat and starchy filler food like pasta, while eschewing nuts, berries, seeds, and mammoth flesh? I know I’m beating a dead horse… I’m just tenderizing the meat.

I am not denying that bread or pasta or potatoes or whatever can be nutritious and helpful. There are plenty of people that would find more nutrition in a sandwich than in a chicken salad. It is, however, absurd to maintain that such foods as grains should function as the staples of our diets. Everyone knows wine is better for you than beer. Everyone knows a man cannot survive on bread alone. Why do most seem to ignore this common knowledge when it comes to our diets? Sure, filler food is cheap, people like what they like, and I am not one to keep another from eating whatever the hell he or she wants. As well, I recognize that the food pyramid is no longer the standard upheld by the US Department of Agriculture. So, what about this recent invention?

myplate

This is an “updated” version of the food pyramid. Look more closely, though: “meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts” has been reduced to “proteins.” The staggering variety of foods high in protein notwithstanding, this is really just a re-hashing of the same chart, with the exception of “fats, oils, and sugars” being completely removed (and on a side note, rendering it completely unrealistic). Dairies, fruits, and “proteins,” ignoring that dairies are high in protein, still largely retain their proportions in relation to the other food “groups.” As another aside, the idea of a food “group” is completely ridiculous, as each food is different.

The main and arguably only positive difference in this updated form is that grains and vegetables are now on even footing. A minimal improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. However, this observation still ignores the plain fact that any given individual should maintain the diet that is best for them rather than some prescription for the general population. Maybe your stomach can’t handle meat, but you get healthier eating lots of dairy and fruits. Perhaps you are nauseated by dairy and red meat, and would prefer eating poultry and vegetables. That’s your prerogative and all, but more importantly, once you can recognize the dietary factors that improve your health and general well-being, you can more-easily take another step towards ridding yourself of needless suffering, be it crushing or minimal. Thanks for reading; now go kill animals and eat them, ya dirty bread hippie.

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