This Is What We’re Up Against …

If the federal government’s influence over food choices were limited to releasing dense and unreadable Dietary Guidelines every five years, it wouldn’t be much to worry about. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Schools, the military, prisons and other government facilities are required to follow those guidelines.

And in case that’s not enough, they’re doing their best to harangue us into following the guidelines at home as well. Check out this video:

The Apps for Kids official website describes the competition:

The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Apps for Healthy Kids challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children, especially “tweens” (ages 9-12) – directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active.

Tools and games should be built using the USDA nutrition dataset recently made available to the public through the Open Government Initiative. The dataset provides information on total calories, calories from “extras” (solid fats and added sugars), and MyPyramid food groups for over 1,000 commonly eaten foods. We are seeking innovative and creative tools and games that use the USDA dataset to deliver nutrition and health concepts in a fun and engaging way.

Great … now kids can be brainwashed by the USDA while playing games. The only saving grace here is that the government officials in charge will probably select games no self-respecting kid would actually find interesting.

A few days ago, we decided we’d better do some summertime family activities before summer is gone, so we took the girls to play miniature golf and visit a children’s discovery center in a nearby town. It was a lovely drive through the hills and rolling countryside, where we saw several ranches with cows roaming around the pastures and eating grass … just like Mother Nature Intended.

The discovery center was actually pretty cool. Lots of interesting science, nature and technology exhibits for kids. Here’s my six-year-old getting up close and personal with some turtles:

Unfortunately, the USDA apparently rents a small section of the museum. An entire corner was dedicated to the wonders of the Food Pyramid and health advice based on it.

So this is what we’re up against. Dietary guidelines in the schools, dietary guidelines being programmed into educational games, dietary guidelines being quoted as gospel by health reporters in the media, dietary guidelines on display in museums, and of course dietary guidelines on your food packages. No wonder people give you a strange look if you tell them you avoid grains and eat lots of animal fats.  It’s been pounded into their heads over and over that a diet like that will kill you. 

Grains and soybean oil … lovely. Anyone out there really believe the U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing those foods because they’re just soooooo good for you?

While I was pulling these pictures off my wife’s camera, I found a few others that are relevant. Apparently one of us wanted to remember breakfast one morning and took this one:

That’s a typical breakfast around here. Cheese and onion omelet (cooked in Kerrygold butter) with sour cream on top, bacon, avocado, a bit of fruit. No grains, and no godawful soybean oil to ruin it.

In the pictures above and below, you can see how a diet that rarely includes bread, pasta, cereal, or any of the foods at the base of the Food Pyramid has turned my six-year-old into a listless little weakling. These were taken at a fair in downtown Franklin. A bunch of other kids her age and older also tried to climb to the top of the wall, where they could push a buzzer to announce their success. Not one made it during the time we were watching.  But she did.

We also finally got around to finding a local dentist and all had our first checkups in over a year.  Four people, zero cavities.  So I think I’ll continue ignoring the USDA and their Dietary Guidelines.

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68 thoughts on “This Is What We’re Up Against …

  1. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    I just hope the day never comes when the government decides to make the USDA’s dietary guidelines mandatory for everyone in order to combat their induced soon-to-be obesity crisis and charge parents who don’t follow their guidelines with child neglect or abuse.

    Well, one of our genius congressmen recently told people at a town hall meeting that the Constitution doesn’t prevent the federal government from mandating choices for our own good — that was in response to a question about ordering us to buy health insurance — so who knows?

    Reply
  2. Wanda

    Nice to see your daughter thriving on such a sensible diet. On a somewhat unrelated note, I found this joke on The Oatmeal website…

    What does a vegan zombie eat?

    GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS!

    Cheers!

    That’s worth a chuckle.

    Reply
  3. Don

    Tom,

    I had bloodwork done last week and got the results back today. The last bloodwork before that was from August ’07 and it wasn’t pretty. The current results aren’t great (yet) but…well, see for yourself:

    TOTAL CHOLESTEROL: 248, down from 260 in ’07

    TRIGLYCERIDES: 136, down from 199 in ’07

    HDL: 46, up from 40 in ’07

    LDL: 175, down from 180 in ’07

    VLDL: 27, down from 40 in ’07

    So there’s still much room for progress but every point has improved in three years. Why? Lipitor? No. I made two – and only two – lifestyle changes:

    1) I greatly upped my fats (mainly coconut oil and animal fat, and recently added flaxseed) while avoiding transfats everywhere I could.

    2) I cut carbs way back…I’m not ‘no-carb’ and not always ‘low-carb’ but my carb intake has been massively reduced over the past three years.

    Proof is in the pudding (or bloodwork) so I’m now convinced: Not only will a high sat fat/low carb diet not kill you, it’ll improve your health. I know because, it bears repeating, the two changes above are the ONLY changes I’ve made in my lifestyle since ’07.

    Thanks for a great blog, keep it up.

    I started upping my fats and cutting carbs about 2 years ago.

    That’s good progress, and I’d expect you’ll see even more improvement in upcoming months.

    Reply
  4. Wanda

    Nice to see your daughter thriving on such a sensible diet. On a somewhat unrelated note, I found this joke on The Oatmeal website…

    What does a vegan zombie eat?

    GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS!

    Cheers!

    That’s worth a chuckle.

    Reply
  5. Don

    Tom,

    I had bloodwork done last week and got the results back today. The last bloodwork before that was from August ’07 and it wasn’t pretty. The current results aren’t great (yet) but…well, see for yourself:

    TOTAL CHOLESTEROL: 248, down from 260 in ’07

    TRIGLYCERIDES: 136, down from 199 in ’07

    HDL: 46, up from 40 in ’07

    LDL: 175, down from 180 in ’07

    VLDL: 27, down from 40 in ’07

    So there’s still much room for progress but every point has improved in three years. Why? Lipitor? No. I made two – and only two – lifestyle changes:

    1) I greatly upped my fats (mainly coconut oil and animal fat, and recently added flaxseed) while avoiding transfats everywhere I could.

    2) I cut carbs way back…I’m not ‘no-carb’ and not always ‘low-carb’ but my carb intake has been massively reduced over the past three years.

    Proof is in the pudding (or bloodwork) so I’m now convinced: Not only will a high sat fat/low carb diet not kill you, it’ll improve your health. I know because, it bears repeating, the two changes above are the ONLY changes I’ve made in my lifestyle since ’07.

    Thanks for a great blog, keep it up.

    I started upping my fats and cutting carbs about 2 years ago.

    That’s good progress, and I’d expect you’ll see even more improvement in upcoming months.

    Reply
  6. Marilyn

    Tracee, I’m the same age as your father, and I remember those farm surplus items at school, now that you mention it. I went to a one-room country school and, in addition to teaching, the teacher had to prepare “hot lunches” some of the time. (This meant the school board had to go to an auction and buy a stove. The $1 stove worked better than the $2 one, so they kept the $1 one and junked the other.) I was vaguely aware that we were using farm surplus items, but it seemed like a Good Thing at the time, since we were farmers and we were taught not to waste things. The only items I remember were honey, and something like Franco-American spaghetti. I’m sure there were other things. All I know is that I preferred my mom’s lunches, which included sandwiches with plenty of butter, with filling ranging from peanut butter to free-range chicken to pickled heart.

    Reply
  7. Marilyn

    A typo. Make that last line “pickled heart.” [beef]

    Fixed. We don’t want people thinking you go out picking hearts.

    Reply
  8. Marilyn

    Tracee, I’m the same age as your father, and I remember those farm surplus items at school, now that you mention it. I went to a one-room country school and, in addition to teaching, the teacher had to prepare “hot lunches” some of the time. (This meant the school board had to go to an auction and buy a stove. The $1 stove worked better than the $2 one, so they kept the $1 one and junked the other.) I was vaguely aware that we were using farm surplus items, but it seemed like a Good Thing at the time, since we were farmers and we were taught not to waste things. The only items I remember were honey, and something like Franco-American spaghetti. I’m sure there were other things. All I know is that I preferred my mom’s lunches, which included sandwiches with plenty of butter, with filling ranging from peanut butter to free-range chicken to pickled heart.

    Reply
  9. Marilyn

    A typo. Make that last line “pickled heart.” [beef]

    Fixed. We don’t want people thinking you go out picking hearts.

    Reply
  10. Rocky

    The pathetic nutrition rhetoric from the government is bad enough as it is: largely misguided advice with a relatively moderate amount of legislative muscle behind it. What truly frightens me is the thought of increased government mandate and the way increased legislative muscle behind this nonsense will be justified is through national health care.

    When the government is footing the bill for the majority of our health care, the collectivist thinking will become more firmly entrenched, giving rise to the notion that “for the public good and reduced health care costs we must mandate these nutrition guidelines” and even further restrict public access to “unhealthy things.”

    Then next, it’s only logical that we can’t be trusted with things like nutritional supplements and alternative medical advice. All of that will need to come through approved health care providers.

    Indeed, so many frightening doors open once the government is firmly in control of the finances behind health care. We already see children removed from the home because the parents aren’t pursuing “medically approved treatments” for a child’s medical condition. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t think it’s terribly far fetched to imagine court ordered statins for a child that a doctor declares is “at-risk” for coronary artery disease. Nor do I have difficulty imagining increased scrutiny by child protective services into what parents are feeding their child if a teacher reports seeing a child with an unhealthy “high fat” diet that deviates wildly from the food pyramid guidelines.

    I’ve raised similar objections, and the usual response is something like “Well, I still want government health care, but I don’t want them intruding in our health and nutrition decisions.” Yeah, right … that’s how it will work. I mean, heck, it’s not like they dictate food choices to our local grade school or anything … oh, wait …

    There have already been proposals to outlaw over-the-counter supplements. What, you think you should be able to just BUY tryptophan if you need it?! Sorry, our good friends (and major campaign contributors) at Pfizer tell us that’s not a good idea.

    Reply
  11. Rocky

    The pathetic nutrition rhetoric from the government is bad enough as it is: largely misguided advice with a relatively moderate amount of legislative muscle behind it. What truly frightens me is the thought of increased government mandate and the way increased legislative muscle behind this nonsense will be justified is through national health care.

    When the government is footing the bill for the majority of our health care, the collectivist thinking will become more firmly entrenched, giving rise to the notion that “for the public good and reduced health care costs we must mandate these nutrition guidelines” and even further restrict public access to “unhealthy things.”

    Then next, it’s only logical that we can’t be trusted with things like nutritional supplements and alternative medical advice. All of that will need to come through approved health care providers.

    Indeed, so many frightening doors open once the government is firmly in control of the finances behind health care. We already see children removed from the home because the parents aren’t pursuing “medically approved treatments” for a child’s medical condition. Call me an alarmist, but I don’t think it’s terribly far fetched to imagine court ordered statins for a child that a doctor declares is “at-risk” for coronary artery disease. Nor do I have difficulty imagining increased scrutiny by child protective services into what parents are feeding their child if a teacher reports seeing a child with an unhealthy “high fat” diet that deviates wildly from the food pyramid guidelines.

    I’ve raised similar objections, and the usual response is something like “Well, I still want government health care, but I don’t want them intruding in our health and nutrition decisions.” Yeah, right … that’s how it will work. I mean, heck, it’s not like they dictate food choices to our local grade school or anything … oh, wait …

    There have already been proposals to outlaw over-the-counter supplements. What, you think you should be able to just BUY tryptophan if you need it?! Sorry, our good friends (and major campaign contributors) at Pfizer tell us that’s not a good idea.

    Reply
  12. Krys

    Your daughter is only six and she climbed to the top of that wall? That is amazing! You’ve should be very proud, not only of her courage and ability, but also of the great job you and your wife on doing on raising her. I hope more parents follow your lead!

    Thank you. In addition to eating good food, I think she got my father-in-law’s jock genes. I was, unfortunately, a weak kid.

    Only thing that scares me about her is that she’s a bit too fearless at times. Jump first, ask questions later.

    Reply
  13. Krys

    Your daughter is only six and she climbed to the top of that wall? That is amazing! You’ve should be very proud, not only of her courage and ability, but also of the great job you and your wife on doing on raising her. I hope more parents follow your lead!

    Thank you. In addition to eating good food, I think she got my father-in-law’s jock genes. I was, unfortunately, a weak kid.

    Only thing that scares me about her is that she’s a bit too fearless at times. Jump first, ask questions later.

    Reply
  14. Art

    Hello,
    Saw your movie about 3 or 4 weeks ago and decided to do some more research on the subject, so I decided to change my diet and so far in two weeks I have went from 283lbs to 276lbs eating milk, eggs, bacon, sausage, beef some chicken and some veggies (not much) oh and real butter and lard(YUM!!) I do eat carbs here and there (more like a bite here and there) I have thrown out all my cereals and grain products and I have found that I’m not tired in the daytime any more and not hungry between meals its weird because it was always hard for me to lose weight even when going to the gym regularly and now I’ve lost weight from just sitting on my butt and eating fat LOL( not really sitting on my butt but not really exercising either) so far I am a believer and have tried to convince my mother in-law who believes she will lose weight with lots of whole grains and fibre ( she has held this belief for years now and not losing any weight ) Well thanks and I’m going to see where this diet takes me.

    Good luck and keep me posted.

    Reply
  15. Art

    Hello,
    Saw your movie about 3 or 4 weeks ago and decided to do some more research on the subject, so I decided to change my diet and so far in two weeks I have went from 283lbs to 276lbs eating milk, eggs, bacon, sausage, beef some chicken and some veggies (not much) oh and real butter and lard(YUM!!) I do eat carbs here and there (more like a bite here and there) I have thrown out all my cereals and grain products and I have found that I’m not tired in the daytime any more and not hungry between meals its weird because it was always hard for me to lose weight even when going to the gym regularly and now I’ve lost weight from just sitting on my butt and eating fat LOL( not really sitting on my butt but not really exercising either) so far I am a believer and have tried to convince my mother in-law who believes she will lose weight with lots of whole grains and fibre ( she has held this belief for years now and not losing any weight ) Well thanks and I’m going to see where this diet takes me.

    Good luck and keep me posted.

    Reply

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