The New American Diet: Can We Do It?
The government's new diet guidelines may be hard to swallow.
Getting the Most From the Guidelines continued...
Does this still sound too hard? Hang in there. Don't throw your hands in the
air. Do not run to the nearest hamburger joint or fried chicken outlet.
"Start where you are today and look toward guidelines as goals,"
Zelman says. "If you are eating one serving of vegetables, eat two or
three. Don't let the number intimidate you. If you are not exercising, 90
minutes a day is too much. Take baby steps. Make the changes in your lifestyle
that help you incorporate some of these recommendations a little at a time.
Don't let it make you crazy."
Eating, Bittman says, is one of the truly consistent pleasures. We can't
deny that. So we have to find ways to get our pleasure while keeping our
"Eating just two pieces of shrimp or a steak the size of a small
McDonald's hamburger -- I think most people are going to find that an exercise
in frustration," Bittman says. "Those of us who eat meat really like to
tuck in. You like to take a few good bites. So the thing is to do trades and
figure you are going to eat a chunk of meat once a week instead of twice a day
as a lot of people do."
The Bittman plan: Set a rough limit for yourself. Be aware of the calories
in different kinds of food, but don't get obsessed with counting them. Get half
your calories from plant foods -- not counting the oils used to flavor
Is a Hamburger and Fries So Bad?
"If you get half of your food intake from vegetables and fruits and
whole grains, the other half wouldn't be that bad for you unless you were
eating suet," Bittman says. "Even if you get 600 calories from a Big
Mac and 450 calories from a medium order of fries, if the rest of your day's
diet were broccoli and apples and bulgur, you wouldn't be that bad
Look on the positive side, Bittman says. It is satisfying to eat
beautiful vegetables. It is satisfying to eat rich whole grains.
"Use a strategy of seeing the big picture. Say, 'I am going to try to
eat two cups each of vegetables and fruit every day, and a cup or two of whole
grains every day,'" he advises. "I know that is going to leave me
hungry. But at least I have eaten the stuff that has the fiber, that has the
lack of fat, that has the omega-3 fatty acids. And then I am going to go ahead
and put my olive oil on it and eat my meat and fish. I can eat smaller
quantities. I just don't have the willpower to go in any other