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March is National Nutrition Month

This month, the American Dietetic Association is throwing a party. They’re calling it National Nutrition Month® 2011, and the goal is two-part:

1.  To focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

2. To  promote the ADA and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.

There’s an official web site and an invitation to use their logo if you blog about them and all manner of downloads and games. They’ve planned a full-on assault of the webbernet. I suspect we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot about this campaign in the coming weeks.

If you’re a dino-chow afficianado, you might be feeling a little anxious just now. I know it gives me pause. But be strong. We can get this together. Let’s take a look at each of the ADA’s mission statements and see what’s what.

Numero uno…

“To focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.”

Um, OK. That doesn’t sound like a bad mission. I am definitely FOR informed food choices and sound habits. But what does the ADA specifically recommend?

According to the ADA’s “Everyday Eating for a Healthier You,” along with fruits and vegetables (whew), the ADA guidelines also recommend the following: (I’ve bolded the poisons I find particularly egregious, just in case you miss ‘em.)

Whole grains: Increase whole grains by choosing whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice and whole wheat pasta.

Low-fat or fat- free milk, yogurt and cheese or fortified soy beverages: Include 3 cups per day for calcium, vitamin D, protein and potassium. Lactose-free milk is also an option.

Vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut, and soybean: These are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

I guess we should be pleased that olive oil was at least mentioned in the list. But I’m too distracted by the recommendations to eat whole grains and soy, soy, soy (milk)… and corn!

Alright. I’m working up to full-rant speed now. Let’s hit mission #2. Hold my hand…

“To  promote the ADA and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically based food and nutrition information.”

 The ADA’s official description of itself is this:

“The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.”

Again, that sounds pretty good, right? They want to be credible and valuable and timely – and being committed to improving health through research and education is totally kickass. Who could possibly be against that?!

But this is where those important critical thinking skills come in handy. Research is only as useful as the brains behind it. Use a biased brain, get biased results.

I don’t want to go all conspiracy theory on you, but I’ve read snippets here and there about the source of the funding for much of the ADA’s research. The ADA is way too close to corporations for my comfort. This link right here kinda makes me feel like I’m in a disaster movie, waiting for Gene Hackman to blow the whistle on the bad guys that everyone knows are bad but just can’t seem to eliminate.

Maybe there’s nothing sinister going on.

Perhaps, the worst of it is that the people writing ADA guidelines are merely ill-informed, rather than greedy and malevolent. I don’t care. That leaves us in the same place: a dangerous food pyramid and an organization with high visibility spreading misinformation.

But, my friends! Do not despair. Because we have big-brained, big-muscled angels on our side, in the form of Whole9Life and Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and Sarah Fragoso and Loren Cordain and the multitude of paleo/real food/primal bloggers that eat well and share what they know every day.

So… in fierce opposition to the ADA’s National Nutrition Month, I’m doing my own advocacy. Throughout March, I’ll post ideas and tips for something you can do to improve your own health habits, along with stuff you can do to painlessly share what you know with the people you love. There is almost nothing harder than helping loved ones see the light about good health – but maybe together we can find un-intimidating ways to share the love so our dear ones don’t fall prey to the ADA. (You can find all the posts right here, or click the “National REAL Nutrition Month” label below.)

Look for my first National REAL Nutrition Month post later today. Til then, drink some water, eat a vegetable, and do a handful of pushups. ‘Cause I love you, and you should love you, too.

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5 Responses to “March is National Nutrition Month”

  1. cavegirl_couture says:

    im used to weeing whole grains and soy on the "essential nutrients" lists, but canola oil? wow… sad how misinformed people are.

  2. Jennifer K. says:

    I'm teaching a class on reading comprehension to 5th graders, and today's chapter in the district's textbook was all about nutrition and the food pyramid. I had to keep telling myself that I wasn't teaching nutrition, I was teaching them how to understand and remember what they were reading…not so easy when you think misinformation is being spread!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh Mel I love your blog more and more with each visit. Great work and I will post this on my website.

    Kelly
    CrossFit 816

  4. Anonymous says:

    YAY! I can't wait to see what you've got in store for us!

    Kim

  5. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    cavegirl_couture –> The canola oil is particularly painful. It's such garbage, and it's everywhere.

    Jennifer K –> OMG. That sounds really tough!

    Kelly @ CrossFit816 –> Hooray! Thanks so much!

    Kim –> Let me know if there's a particular topic you'd like to me cover.

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