Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Low fat propaganda

I've been a student member of the American Dietetic Association for three years (last year I was still a student when the new membership was due, even though I became an RD a month later!) This year, I will not be renewing my membership, largely because of things like this:

I get fun little bits of dietetic propaganda or advertising (as the ADA shamelessly shares my contact information with all kinds of food producers) in the mail at least once a week. My favorite one was a couple months ago promoting eating eggs-- little did they know I have an egg factory in my backyard so I get them for free:) Today's fun little number was made available by the sub-group I belong to called SCAN, which stands for Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, which I thought would be a group to discuss sports nutrition, but doesn't seem to do much at all (as opposed to the Dietitians in Functional Medicine group I belong to which is actually useful-- I will be sorry to see that one go).

First of all, this helpful "resource" was sponsored by Promise/Country Crock/I can't believe it's not butter-- i.e. makers of scary non-food butter substitutes made of refined vegetable oil and tree fiber. Lovely. "Keep the taste, lose the saturated fat! Swap butter for a delicious soft spread!" it claims. 1. Margarine tastes nothing like butter 2. Butter is REAL FOOD your body can recognize as opposed to the scary crap in the margarine and 3. Believing saturated fat causes heart disease is so 1994! Even the ADA national conference made mention that saturated fat isn't as bad as they once thought-- why do they continue to spout this nonsense? Oh right, because they are sponsored by makers of margarine (other sponsors include Diet Coke and Hersheys-- wonderful).

The pamphlet lists 10 simple steps to make the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines work for you and your family:

1. Size your servings right:
While I agree generally that people tend to eat too much, I think the issue has more to do with poor food choices-- are you really going to overeat salmon, salad and fruit? Probably not.

2. Switch out the saturated fat
Come on people! So many other bloggers have covered this well, Gary Taubes has written a two books on the topic-- saturated fat does not cause heart disease. It just doesn't.

3. Make good habits more delicious at home: simple recipes for a healthier lifestyle
This section features a bunch of protein/veggie recipes that would probably be pretty good if you used a good fat instead of scary Country Crock.

4. Fit fruits and vegetables into your diet
No complaints here in general, though the specific recommendations, like to add fruit to pizza was ludicrous. (I'm healthy because my pizza has pineapple on it! Please).

5. Eat less salt
I have mixed feelings on this one. I don't think we need to be getting salt from processed foods-- if you cut out processed crap you will automatically eat less salt. But only a small portion of the population has salt-sensitive high blood pressure. Most people do fine with some sea salt in cooking-- salt brings flavors together in cooking and makes things taste better.

6. Watch out for solid fats (isn't this the same as #2?) and added sugar
First of all, margarine is a solid fat, so there goes that reasoning! But naturally occurring solid fats are very heat stable so they are your friends for cooking! Nasty vegetable oils tend to go rancid and turn to trans fat pretty quickly. I concur on the added sugar though-- keep that to a minimum.

7. Enjoy more seafood and choose a variety of protein foods
The title is fine-- I like fish a lot, and I agree with a variety of protein foods, however on the detail page they go on and on about low-fat, drain off all fat, fat phobia that is ridiculous. They also don't mention that while fish is awesome, you also have to limit consumption due to mercury toxicity.

8. Make half your grains whole
This is just stupid. Let's ignore the fact that many people don't do well with grains at all. If you believe that whole grains are superior as the ADA does, given their lack of processing and fiber content, why would you only push for people to make HALF of them whole grains? Given that the food pyramid wants you eating 6-11 servings of grain a day, that means you could be eating 4-5 servings of white bread a day and be totally within their recommendations. Oh, and you could put margarine on it! SO STUPID.

9. Keep your food safe
Tips on food safety-- no complaints here, lots of people have sinks full of salmonella. I probably do too.

10. Move More!
I think we are all in agreement that more moving, less sitting is good.

Between the inappropriate corporate sponsorships, the endless propaganda like this I get in the mail, and the useless "research" they publish in their journal, I don't seem much point in spending $200 a year for a membership, though I still have to do "approved" continuing education courses. I'm trying to figure out a way to get credit for the Robb Wolf Seminar I'm going to in July!


Jenn said...

This is a FANTASTIC post!!!! I'm going to go tweet it now!

PS I'm working on the GH questions. Sorry it has taken me soooo long. I went to this conference last weekend called Fitbloggin' and I got consumed with trying to fix all these little things in my blog. I apologize.

Charlotte said...

Hey I love this post too! Jenn (see above) just let me know about your blog and it's awesome! I am so glad to finally hear a nutritionist proclaiming that natural saturated fats are not the devil. Hurrah for coconut oil!

Laura said...

You can still be an RD without being a member of the ADA?! I didn't know that was an option...much for me to think about! Loving your blog!