Don’t Buy The Lies: How The USDA’s Lying To You About What’s Healthy

Gabriella Paul
Gabriella is currently pursuing a Journalism degree at the University of Florida. She’s a coffeehouse enthusiast, a wanna-be health nut, a recovering addict of the Office, an old soul in a new world — she is an artist.

Have you ever wondered why eating “healthy” just leaves you feeling hungry? Perhaps, it’s because society assumes eating “healthy” means eating less. People become consumed with calorie-counting apps and portion control, but end up quitting these strict regimen weeks later. Although it’s easy to just blame self-discipline, is there more to the story?

Ask the USDA. It has been selling lies to society for years. Traditionally regarded as the “holy grail” of nutrition, the USDA’s MyPyramid is the backbone to every low-calorie, weight-loss diet on the market since 2005.

It portrays ideal daily intake as mostly grains; moderate fruits, vegetables dairy and protein; and very limited fats, oils and sugars. However, if we were to challenge the USDA’s pyramid with nutritional fact, it would crumble to pieces.


Base of Lies

Starting from the bottom – rice, pasta, fortified-cereal and bread are all starches — one of the worst things you can consume aside from refined sugar. Yet, they make up our largest chunk of ideal consumption. Have you ever noticed how one dinner roll easily turns into two, three and even four? That’s not surprising. In addition to having little nutritional value, starches leave you wanting more.

If you replaced grains with fats, your stomach would be satisfied. When your body has the nutrients it needs, it burns fat and builds muscle simultaneously. Say what?

Fats or Carbs?

Now, I’m not talking fats like French fries and cheesecake, but I am talking cheddar cheese, whole milk and nuts. Although “fat” has become a trigger word in today’s dieting, the science says you have to eat fat to burn fat. For every muscle fiber being built, a nerve must be connected, and every time a nerve is recruited, it needs a coating of fat.

Therefore, if you’re on a low-fat diet and actively exercising, your body is stressed and will desperately hold on to all the fat it can instead of burning it. Instead, consuming foods with high levels of glucagon, found in fattier foods, gives your stored fat permission to be released.

For example, just as there are good and bad fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates, which are found throughout every section of the pyramid — in grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy. The pyramid implies that a potato and a banana should be consumed equally as often. However, this is not the case.


Carb Cheat Sheet

Your body breaks down all food differently, depending on its makeup. The golden rule for carbohydrates is: the slower your body digests it – the greater nutritional value it has. When food is digested quickly, blood sugar skyrockets, and everything consumed gets stored as fat.

But how is one to know which carbs are which? Don’t fret, there’s a cheat sheet and it’s called the Glycemic Index. The lower the number on the index, the better the carb; so, aim low.

For example, the index for a baked potato is 84, whereas the index for a banana is nearly half that.

It’s obvious the food pyramid is obsolete for someone trying to shed the pounds. Food is not just a caloric value, it makes far more sense to evaluate all food individually instead of with generalized categories.