Facing the Truth
by Dan Malovany
Thanks to Tommy Thompson, I now have new motivation to follow the recently released Dietary Guidelines. You see, the Health & Human Services Secretary and I share something in common. We both have fat faces.
“If you lose weight, ladies and gentlemen, it takes less time to shave in the morning. I can attest to it,” Thompson told reporters upon announcing the U.S. Dietary Guidelines in January. “So please do it. Save time.”
Imagine that. I can feel better, look better and spend less time getting ready for work in the morning. Think of all the money I’d save on shaving cream and razors.
You know, my face is so fat that the photo of it didn’t fit on my driver’s license. Don’t laugh. In Illinois, driver’s license photos used to be put in a space that was the shape of our long narrow state. The top of my head was no problem because it was in the northernmost, widest part of the state.
However, as my cheeks traveled to the southernmost point, more and more of my profile fell into the white space normally reserved for Indiana. I needed to live in a wide state like Ohio, Texas or Alaska, but I digress.
During the news conference, a couple of things struck me in particular. First, the use of the term “common sense.” Maybe it’s me, but I’m not used to hearing that phrase from government officials. Second, I was struck by the guideline’s balanced focus on weight management, counting calories, cutting fats, eating more whole grains and vegetables, and exercising. Forget fad diets. It’s all about selecting “nutrient-dense” products that lead can lead to a healthier lifestyle over a long period of time.
Third, U.S. Department of Agriculture Sec’y. Ann Veneman said they’re rethinking the shape of the Food Guide Pyramid. This could be a bone of contention in the next month or so.
Fourth, how will the guidelines impact the bread aisle? Will retailers allot a greater amount of space for whole-grain products and less for refined-grain items?
Fifth, how will the sweet goods and snack aisles fare? Thompson urged Americans “to eat healthier, to skip dessert, or only eat half of it.” As I said before, focus on impulse and indulgence.
Additionally, how will the media respond to the guidelines? So far, so good, from initial reports. Certainly, the Grain Foods Foundation has a solid platform now for its industry promotion campaign, which is being launched in February. That effort should fuel further public interests as the story gets out. Additionally, companies like Sara Lee Bakery Group are promoting the nutritional benefits of whole-grain and refined breads and rolls through a new Web site. Check out www.breadrules.com. It rocks.
But what is the government doing? Are there big bucks being budgeted to really change the way Americans eat? Probably not. Mostly, you’ll see the USDA educating consumers through school lunch and other programs.
Finally, will consumers reject the quick fixes and slowly change their eating habits over time? Will they have the patience and discipline to follow the Dietary Guidelines, or will they continue to stuff their fat faces?
My New Year’s resolution is to spend less time shaving.
Editor’s Note: Fortunately, Illinois has changed the format on its driver’s licenses. It now uses a square so that airport security personnel can see my whole face, jowls and all.
On another note, this year’s best-seller is “French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure,” which basically “pooh-poohs” Atkins, South Beach and other diets of denial. Rather, it is about enjoying food. It focuses on eating in moderation and chowing down at a more leisurely pace. Wolfing down a Big Mac in 20 seconds is a faux pax and so gauche. Oui oui, bread is highly recommended in this diet.