For many years now I have been saying that the current dietary guidelines are terrible. The food pyramid and any of its variations are a major cause of so many of the diseases we see in society today. From obesity to diabetes and arthritic conditions just to name a few, I firmly believe that the numbers we see of these things would be so much lower if we just went back to normal food that mother nature has provided us with.
Unfortunately as humans, we are quite hesitant to admit any wrong, so call it stubbornness, or call it just bad science, I can’t see the Western world changing it’s stance on all the high carb, low fat recommendations that we love so much. Even despite the mounting evidence that it just doesn’t work for the majority of the population. But don’t panic just yet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, from none other, than the Brazilians.
Recently the Brazilian government came out with new dietary guidelines for their people and I have to say, that I am relatively impressed. It’s not perfect, but certainly a lot closer than anything I have seen from the Australian or US government. Let’s have a look at what the 10 recommendations are…
1. Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
2. Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
3. Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
4. Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
5. Eat in company whenever possible.
6. Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
7. Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
8. Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
9. When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
10. Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.
I will admit that they are quite basic suggestions. But shouldn’t that be the nature of the food we eat? Pure and simple? I really think that point 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10 would go a long way to making a much healthier society.
Point 2 is half way there, I just disagree with the fact that they put sugar in the same group as oils, fats and salt. Sugar should be avoided at all costs. I like to refer to it as white death (not my term, but I love to use it). However many fats and oils are essential to a good diet (read here for my thoughts on that) and salt is an essential nutrient provided it is high quality sea salt as opposed to the highly processed table salt many of us grew up with.
As runners, we tend to think we are quite bulletproof where health is concerned. We tend not to get overweight due to all the energy we burn which makes it easy to think we can eat that donut or hamburger as we have gone for a run today. I really don’t think this is the case and I’m really noticing that with the athletes I work with (including myself), their performance is improving when they start eating a clean healthy diet and avoid all the processed foods that have been a staple of their diet.
So I would suggest taking a leaf out of the Brazilians book and try a cleaner, healthier approach to nutrition and see where this can take you in your next race.