Let us eat cake
By Diana Maxfield
After long reflection and careful consideration, I
have come to a very important conclusion: eating healthy
is not for me. I have my reasons of course, and they
all come down to the fact that good nutrition is hard,
especially since the good-tasting foods and the good-for-you
foods seem perpetually at war with each other.
While there are other factors in my failure to eat
nutritiously (being too broke to buy milk comes to mind),
the main issue, I'll confess, is this: I'd rather eat
Can you blame me? It's much more fun to eat Frosted
Flakes and spaghetti than whole-wheat bread and Total.
Let's face it, anything that markets itself as "healthy"
has to-because it can't get away with claiming to be
good-tasting or fun.
The old U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid
seemed to understand that.
That version of healthy eating, released when I was
in grade school, was solidly based in all the foods
I like best, and it didn't make any bothersome comments
about looking for ingredients like "whole grains" like
the new one does.
Under the old pyramid, I could convincingly tell myself
that eating donuts was perfectly acceptable, even healthy-clearly,
donuts are a bread-type, so they fit nicely into the
But now the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants me
to "make half my grains whole." Good-bye, donuts.
The old food pyramid was constructed like building
blocks, so it seemed as if I didn't get the recommended
6 to 11 servings of grains, I couldn't very well move
on smaller, less important things like fruit and veggies.
The crowning glory of the old food pyramid was fats
and oils. They sat atop the pyramid, looking smug and
superior, and I had no choice but to oblige them by
eating at least a few servings of something fatty or
oily every day.
But in the new, improved food pyramid, the portion
representing fats and oils is so thin you can barely
see it, let alone click on it for reassurance that eating
french fries and candy bars is OK.
For those who haven't seen it, the new food pyramid
(showcased at MyPyramid.gov) is built of vertical slices
instead of the familiar stacking in the old pyramid.
Each slice is a different color: green is vegetables,
blue represents milk, etc. No longer does the grain
section dominate the pyramid. It's flat-out depressing.
The new food pyramid does tells me to eat dairy products,
which is fine with me, but I suspect that since it uses
the words "low-fat" or "fat-free," the nutrition police
aren't really including ice cream as a viable option
for getting my daily dairy requirements.
I don't really like milk. In fact, I don't drink milk
at all unless I'm washing down cookies, brownies or
Swiss Cake Rolls. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't pass
with the new food pyramid.
The new pyramid also wants me to exercise. It demonstrates
this, by the way, with a stylized drawing of a person
with no torso running up the side of the pyramid. I
can't run stairs-it hurts my knees.
The pyramid also says that children and teens should
be physically active for 60 minutes or longer. Every
day? Are they kidding? I'm 19. Does that mean that I'm
supposed to be running around for an hour every day?
Well, Stylized No-Torso Man, if I'm going to end up
looking like you, I don't want to follow your lame food
I think what I really want is a food pyramid that
will tell me that my diet is not only okay, it's actually
healthy. Until the day comes that jellybeans are recognized
as vegetables, though, I think I'll forget nutrition
and stick with my current lifestyle. Who wants to be
that healthy, anyway?