Pyramids to Plates: Watch your Diet

The US government has replaced the food pyramid  with the food plate image to tell Americans nudge Americans toward a healthier diet.  Presentation styles do matter, and this new presentation is definitely an improvement.  Additionally, there have been some changes besides just the presentation:  If you compare the two, you can see that the new emphasis is on a little less carbs and a little more fat — a change in the right direction even if not enough.


Readers may recognize that in my life I have been all over the map in terms of religion, politics and medicine.  Yet another imbalanced, fanatic aspect of my life has been food — go figure!  In my past I have been a vegan, a raw vegan, a macrobiotic, a flexatarian and now I eat “paleo” (low-carb).  So you can see I am not to be trusted.  But for fun I have made a plate image of my present diet.

So which diet is best — well, don’t ask your doctor.  Interestingly a recent study shows that doctors opinions are culturally determined and very close to the opinions of their uneducated lay patients.   If you ask a physician about a low-carb diet, for instance, they will probably criticize it as a fad.  Indeed it may be a mere fad.  Only time will tell — lots of time!   But a recent study has declared that Low-Carb diet may be good, if accompanied by exercise.  Wheeew, do I feel a lot better.  But dog-gone-it, why does everything have to be so complicated?

Question to Readers:  Confess your food fads!  [I’m off to have some sardines and wine!]


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

14 responses to “Pyramids to Plates: Watch your Diet

  1. I’ve shifted to a quasi-paleo diet recently. I don’t think anyone knows anything about nutrition; there’s some sort of massive epistemological failure there. However, Paleo is an excuse to eat stuff that tastes really good while ridiculing my own enthusiasm for a cult I don’t actually believe in. Especially since it’s an exceptionally funny cult.

    I recommend grass-fed meat; it tastes *way* better than corn-fed. Whether it’s healthier I have no idea (and doubt anyone else does either).

    The paleo exercise cult is a lot of fun, too! Love my Vibram FiveFingers.

  2. Hey David!
    When did you shift to Paleo (“quasi”)? Why? What makes it ‘quasi’? Maybe you should post on it — at your “casual” site. Anyway, it is obvious you are out-of-control faddish like me — no? The cool thing about hearing your ‘confession’ is that you are way brighter than me. But then, we know that humans are not built to be bright so that brightness usually comes with other hits on the brain such as social skills, common sense and many others. Oh well!😉

    My wife is on the paleo stuff with me too. We both do the Paleo exercise fad too. Great fun — and easier that the normal tripe on exercise.

    We buy our cow 1/2 cow at a time and it is grass fed too. Like you say, the taste is very different and much better. Ours has been tested by the state and shown to be phenomenally higher is Omega 2 etc…. But who cares, it tastes better. Plus we raise our own eggs — yummy.

    This is all a luxury, I am embarrassed to say. But I am grateful for that.
    Like you, we could be all wrong. But as it is said, “I’d rather go out with a flash than a fizzle!”

    Vibrams are a bit pricey, but on my list. How long have you tried them? Any insights. — See, this may need a post by you !!

  3. I’ve been all over the map with diet over the years so this was a fun post for me to read. I did the raw vegan diet for ten months, which darn near killed me, I was on the zone for six months, which I found kind of profound how it changed my body and also state of mind. I have also worked with a Tibetan doctor for over ten years and we have pretty much figured out what works for me. Now I eat medium carbs, high fat, medium meat, low vegies diet, which just makes me and my body very happy. Thanks for letting us know about the new food chart, glad to see a more intelligent approach to food being recommended to the masses.

  4. I think I might post about nutrition and epistemology, at What I find interesting is that people have passionate convictions about nutrition that we know *can’t* be well-grounded. That’s interesting as an analogy for philosophical and religious convictions.

    Semi-adopting a paleo diet is mainly a joke, in that context. So it certainly isn’t an endorsement. The arguments in favor of it make sense, and the data look good. But then, the arguments and data supporting a low-fat diet looked good 10-15 years ago, too, and that seems to have been totally wrong. Or at least, it’s wrong this week. Maybe next week low-fat will be Ultimate Truth again. Or maybe donuts will turn out to be the One True Key To Health.

    “Quasi” because I’m not following it at all rigorously. I do like croissants…

    FiveFingers: I’ve been wearing them for a year and love them. Quite a lot to say about that, but nothing that hasn’t been said more/better by lots of other people. Mmm, except that I wore them up Galdhøpiggen, which is the highest European peak north of the Alps. The trail is 4000 vertical feet of sharp talus at angle of repose. I haven’t read about anyone else doing anything that stupid in them. Wearing FFs on a route like that is NOT recommended and actually a REALLY BAD IDEA, but it was huge fun.

    I have KSO Treks, which I wear as hiking shoes, and Bikila LS’s for running.

    I have a repetitive stress problem in my hip, so I can’t run like I used to, but I’m an enthusiastic member of the barefoot running cult, and run fully barefoot on trails where I can get away with it.

  5. Jen

    Oh, yeah. Food fads. I tried Atkins many years ago before yoga. I felt horrible. Switched to low carb with more veggies, felt great. Eased on into lacto-ovo vegetarian with a high level of physical activity, felt delicious and strong, tried and failed veganism multiple times. Dipped my toes in the raw vegan culture which, ironically enough, got me eating more sugars (agave is touted as a healthy food and all the juicing sent my blood sugars soaring), crawled back to cooked foods with major dietary confusion, started nibbling on regular sugar more frequently and now? Now I’m just looking for some sanity and hope to make up my own rules before following anyone else’s. So–no more sugar, very few grains and fewer products made from grains, lots of vegetables, more soy and plant-based proteins (no seitan, however) and healthy(???) fats. I’m beginning to feel good again. Placebo? Who knows? I’ll take it.

    I have a theory that food has replaced religion in my life. Can’t quite describe it, but I believe I have formed plenty o’ irrational beliefs around it. Oh well. There are worse things I could do.

  6. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I was a vegetarian for a summer, years ago. It wasn’t for me. Now I’m on the See Food Diet. I see food, I eat it.😉

  7. Interesting that I see you are (have been) macrobiotic. This has been one difficult point in the relationship between my wife and I. She was into macrobiotics, and I considered it a religion, if not a cult. I LOVED the food she cooked, I just couldn’t go along with her insistance that a pain in my leg was due to too much yang in my diet. I also could never get her to explain to me the difference between yin and yang food.

    She is “cured” of that religion now, but luckily the effects remain. She still cooks great, healthy, tasty “macrobiotic” food, without the dogma.

    I consider myself a “strategic eater”. I don’t eat meat generally, unless I know how it was raised and if it had a good life (my own chickens, or neighbors cows milk etc.) But I also take social sustainability into account. I live in a small town in Japan where dropping by a neighbor’s house for tea is expected. If a neighbor offers me a piece of meat that I am pretty certain is just cheap commodity meat, I do take a bite or two to strategically help my relationship with my neighbors.

    I DO however love the raw beef from my beef farming neighbor – even though I don’t like his methods. I have my weaknesses.

  8. Dan

    I think of eating as a political act. Do my food dollars support people I know and like? I’m becoming more and more a locavore.

  9. Dan

    Err… Localvore? You know, a person who eats food less well travelled than me.

  10. Craig:
    The raw food thing made me sick too — go figure!
    Experimenting to find a diet right for you is a cool process, if it don’t kill you. Congrats on your success.
    My stupidity has not killed me, but has left me with a healthy sense of humor about myself(ves)!

    Your plan piece about Nutrition and Epistemology is where some of my pieces are obviously going. And my blog is all about the common silliness of our epistemology as applied equally to all things (religion, diet, philosophy, medicine …) Our stupidity and self-deception is so pervasive, that I often laugh at the vehement, self-righteous atheists who may feel they escape any of this to a significant degree than theists.

    Thanx for info on the 5-Fingers. I agree on data about diets — if only it was still legal to experiment on prisoners! (sick humor).

    “dipped my toes” <– LOL !
    I agree, the common superstitions between food and religion (the epistemology I spoke to David about above) shows why the phenomena are uncanningly similar. But the same applies to philosophy, medicine and much more — all products of the same creature-mind (for their is no other).

    “See Food Diet” <– first for me — cracked me up. This is the diet of the masses. If only what they ate was food. Instead they eat whatever a factory pours out and commericials convince you to label as "food" — what a joke, what stupid animals we are.

    Macrobiotic is a religion/cult. The ideology is so convenient and so wrong. Oh my goodness, how can a guy like me have lived through so many stupid ideologies — I figure that the Devil must have a plan for my life! 🙂

    Your choice on “a bite or two” is excellent. I will post a fun story (well I think it is fun) on the same. Hope you pop back to visit. May I ask you how you found this site?

    Concerning “weaknesses” <– I wish I didn't know what you mean!😉

    Yeah, I guess it could be political. But I think trade is a good thing — you would not enjoy all the spices you have. The plants we now have are largely by trade at one time. “Localism” is, to me, a pit naive and healthy at the same time — like all our ideologies.

  11. I’ve used Atkins to drop 20% bodyfat, Paleo for maintenance, and “Anabolic Diet” which is a CKD style, to put on muscle. I endorse all three, if done right. I think low-fat diets can work fine, too — IMO, the vast majority of diet failures are caused by people not actually following the diet. Atkins takes a lot of discipline and careful record keeping, though, and CKD can be psychologically brutal.

    There is no “one true answer”. Every person is an experiment of one. The trick is to empirically record everything, stick with an exact plan long enough to get valid results (whether positive or negative), and then tweak the knobs a little bit. It’s always possible to move in a positive direction.

    Currently, I eat whatever I want, and maintain good shape. I try to minimize processed carbs, and very rarely eat sugar in the same meal as high fat. From what I’ve seen, regular moderate exercise greatly controls cravings, while overtraining causes people to overeat.

  12. johnl

    The Japanese would faint! I don’t see this catching on in Japan, somehow…

  13. JS Allen :
    Interesting ! I wonder if religious thinking and diet exploration are correlated.
    Indeed, exercise is key.

    johnl :
    I wonder if the Yakuza could get into it!🙂

  14. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    @Sabio I admit, the See Food diet did not originate with me.😉

    One of the big tricks the food industry pulls is making people think they can’t make a quick meal without the products they sell.

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