By Megan Boyle, Editorial Director and Dawn Undurraga, Nutritionist
News outlets around the country covered the Obama administration’s release of new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, praising the good, scolding the bad and shining a bright light on the ugly.
And there’s certainly ugly. While the guidelines aim to reflect the most up-to-date wisdom about health and nutrition, they’re far from perfect – or unbiased. Under the influence of food industry lobbyists, the guidelines fail to encourage people to eat less meat or explain the risk of eating too much fish that’s high in mercury. They also fall short on advice about sugar. Information about drinking more water and fewer sweetened beverages is hard to find and gets low priority.
The guidelines have consequences for Americans of all ages. They help set policy, such as determining what’s served to children in school lunches and what’s covered for families on food stamps. They can also shape the guidance health care professionals give their patients. That’s a scary proposition at a time when far too many people, including growing children, suffer from chronic, preventable diseases such as obesity and diabetes that are linked to what we eat and how little we exercise.
The government’s problematic guidelines fail to provide the clear and simple advice about healthy eating that we all need. So EWG compiled its own Dietary Guidelines to help families make better food decisions, emphasizing what’s good for our health as well as the planet.
Here are the top five guidelines from EWG, based on the organization’s own research on food, meat, seafood, pesticides in produce and more. Read the full guidelines – and how you can easily apply them at home – by visiting the new EWG Dietary Guidelines web site.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits. Avoid pesticides when you can.
- Eat less meat, especially red and processed meat.
- Skip sodas and sugary or salty foods.
- Eat healthy and sustainable seafood that’s low in mercury.
- Beware of processed foods with harmful chemicals.
Read the full guidelines here.