The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published their 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines, revised every five years, are vague. They advise us to "eat less salt, trans fat and sugar" and "eat more whole grains, dairy products, fruits and vegetables".
Why can't the USDA be more specific? Why, for instance, do they not come right out and say: "Don't drink soda pop and don't eat fatty meat"?
It has to do with conflict of interest.
The root of the problem is that the USDA is a "bi-polar" agency. While it's mandated to encourage healthy eating, it's also mandated to promote American food industries, regardless of the type of food they produce. So any dietary guidelines it publishes must not be overly offensive to industry lobbyists, such as the influential meat and sugar lobbies.
I'm not indebted to the food industry, either in the US or here in Israel. (When Coca Cola sent promotional coupons to Israeli dietitians, mine went straight into the recycling bin.) With that in mind, I offer you my straightforward and simplified dietary guidelines, including what to eat and what not to eat this Passover.
5771 Dietary Guidelines
Eat home-cooked food
Eat plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits every day
Choose whole grains instead of processed grains
Use olive and canola oil
Eat fish, poultry and low-fat dairy foods
Eat real food
Rely on catered, take-out or restaurant food for most of your meals
Buy commercial baked goods high in sugar and saturated fat
Eat highly processed foods
Drink soft drinks
Eat fatty meat
Eat foods that contain trans fat
Pesach presents its own set of dietary challenges. Eating whole grains is the hardest, unless you eat quinoa or kitniot. But there's still plenty you can do to eat right during Passover.
|Stay away from highly processed Passover food|
Eat fruit for dessert instead of candy, cookies and cake. When the occasion calls for a cake, bake your own using nuts, fruit and eggs. (Try the recipe for Banana Coffee Cake in my next blog.) Reduce the amount of sugar called for in your recipe by at least a quarter. Stay away from cake mixes and store-bought baked goods. Most of them are high in sugar and trans fat.
Drink water. Just because Coke is kosher-for-Passover, you don't have to buy it.
Use olive oil as your cooking, baking and salad oil during Pesach.
Make your own matzah balls instead of using a mix. It will only take a little longer, but you'll be getting a lot less salt.
Spread matzah with mashed avocado, fruit-only jam or low-fat soft white cheese instead of margarine or butter. Go easy on the matzah altogether.
Snack on fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts and low-fat yogurt and cheese.
Plan holiday meals using lots of vegetables (think soup, salad and vegetable-based main courses); Serve a small amount of low-fat protein, like chicken, turkey and fish and go easy on the potatoes, knaidlach, kugels and matzah.
Eat real, home-cooked food!