In Retrospective #200, I lament the fact that the term “Healthy Eating” has been co-opted by the Diet Dictocrats in the Federal Government and their cohorts in U.S. agriculture, food processing and manufacturing. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), that produces the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every 5 years, does not have the health of the American consumer in mind; their job is to promote industry. Read Minger’s Death by Food Pyramid.
In its latest iteration, the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion produced “MyPlate,” replacing the original “Food Guide Pyramid” and later “MyPyramid.” It has also produced the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) as “a measure of diet quality that assesses conformance to federal dietary guidance” and to “monitor the diet quality of the U.S. population and the low-income subpopulation.” Their first objective: 1) Advance and promote dietary guidance for all Americans. In other words, a one-size-fits-all eating plan for ALL Americans, regardless of health status.
The Harvard School of Public Health website, “The Nutrition Source says the USDA’s new MyPlate still falls short on giving people the nutrition advice they need to choose the healthiest diets. “Tragically,” the Harvard site says, “the information embodied in this pyramid didn’t point the way to healthy eating.” Why not? “Its blueprint was based on shaky scientific evidence, and it barely changed over the years to reflect major advances in our understanding of the connection between diet and health.” It also acknowledges that, “intense lobbying efforts from a variety of food industries also helped shape the pyramid and the plate.”
So, Harvard’s response was to create their own Healthy Eating Pyramid and Healthy Eating Plate. Then, they went one step further. They created their own Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), a “110-point measure of dietary quality.” Unfortunately, neither the USDA’s HEI questionnaire nor Harvard’s AHEI questionnaire are in the public domain. They are closely held. Only the scorers of the eating patterns of the self-reporting participants know what the people ate.
Consequently, the outcomes of both indices are useful only for the promotion of their respective points of view about what constitutes “healthy eating.” I think we need another tool for assessing diet quality: one I coin “My Alternate Healthy Eating Index” (MyAHEI)©. The principles of MyAHEI are listed below: Read it and self-report your own score in the comment section. Give yourself 5 points for each question you can answer affirmatively. Part scores permitted.
The Nutrition Debate’s 20 Guiding Principles of “My Alternate Healthy Eating Index (MyAHEI)” © of Diet Quality
1. Eat 3 small meals a day, equally sized and evenly spaced, over a window of no more than 10 hours.
2. Eat animal protein with animal fat (and dietary cholesterol) with every meal, and to your heart’s content.
3. Eat 12 to 18 whole eggs from pastured hens each week.
4. Eat no snacks between meals (except perhaps a low-carb/high fat snack before supper).
5. Eat no fried foods and vegetable or seed oils, margarine or store-bought mayo. Eat butter, ghee, and coconut oil.
6. Eat no bread, rice, pasta or potatoes.
7. Eat only nuts that are lowest in polyunsaturated fatty acids (Macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts).
8. Eat sardines in olive oil or wild-caught salmon, char, or turbot at least 5 times a week.
9. Eat no store-prepared foods and no food sold in boxes or bags (except flash-frozen fish and veggies).
10. Eat mostly fresh low-carb vegetables tossed in butter or roasted in olive oil.
11. Eat fish oil capsules (2g/day).
12. Eat organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart, brains, etc.) at least once a week.
13. Eat only low-carb vegetables. Avoid corn, beets, peas and carrots.
14. Eat no fruit, except berries with heavy cream, only on very special occasions.
15. Eat a salad at least twice a week with supper. Do not use store-bought salad dressings.
16. Eat salt to taste; add salt to enhance the flavors of real foods.
17. Drink copious amounts of water and stevia-sweetened iced tea, and coffee with breakfast only.
18. Drink wine (1 or 2 glasses only), or other alcoholic beverages, with (and/or before) supper only.
19. In restaurants, order from the appetizer or small plate menu only; avoid entrees, sides and desserts.
20. In restaurants, eat from your own plate only!!!