Here’s why you should ignore them… and how you should actually be eating instead
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released their updated 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This latest set of rules delivers all the nonsense you’ve come to expect from the country’s leading nutrition “experts”—along with at least one shockingly ignorant move. And given their track record, that’s really saying something…
A gift to Big Agriculture in disguise
The first official U.S. Dietary Guidelines debuted all the way back in 1980. Since then, rates of chronic diseases—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s—have all increased. Which should give you a clue as to how effective the USDA’s advice has really been.
Of course, in almost every instance, the recommendations don’t follow scientific evidence. And they don’t offer sound, research-based advice on what foods promote optimal health and reduce disease risk. Instead, they’re based on political and corporate agendas.
In other words, the USDA uses these guidelines as an excuse to help the agriculture industry collect billions of dollars in federal subsidies. So it’s really no wonder we’re seeing these rocketing rates.
And that’s a real tragedy. Especially when you consider how influential they are in forming the basis of important food-based policies (like the contents of school lunches), regulations (like nutrition labeling), and dietary counseling provided by primary care physicians (assuming they give any advice in the first place).
All of which makes this latest version of the “guidelines” particularly infuriating.
Sugar kills—in all of its forms
On the surface, these new dietary guidelines may look like progress. For instance, for the first time, they include guidance for infants and toddlers.
But for some reason, they neglected to reduce allowances for added sugar—as they felt “there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes.”1
Just to be clear, the new guidelines suggest limiting sugar. But the maximum quantities were not reduced—despite strong recommendations to do so from the scientific advisory committee.
In fact, the USDA’s advisory committee wanted them to reduce their recommended maximum sugar intake from less than 10 percent to less than 6 percent. Yet absolutely no changes were made!
But just one look at how the diabesity epidemic is gripping the nation should be more than enough evidence that something needs to change.
Granted, they state that before the age of 2 years, foods and beverages with added sugars should be avoided. But it makes you wonder why they think anyone of any age should be touching the stuff!? When it’s a cold hard fact that we don’t need added sugars in our diet at all.
As for the additional recommendations? Well, as usual, they say everything and nothing all at once. Let’s take a look…
Meaningless “guidance” across the board
1.) Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. What does this even mean? Are we meeting specific nutrient needs? Is the goal to maintain a certain body weight, and if so, what is that weight? What does “healthy” entail here? How can “guidelines” be so vague?
2.) Customize nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect preferences, cultural traditions, and budgets. I understand the budgets and cultural traditions part, but preferences… really? What if it’s my “preference” to eat cake and ice cream all day, every day? They call this guidance?!
3.) Focus on meeting dietary needs from five food groups—vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and fortified soy alternatives, and proteins—and stay within calorie limits. Here we go talking about calories again—despite continuously debunking the whole “calories in, calories out” misconception. Meanwhile, “fortified soy alternatives” is just shorthand for unhealthy, overly processed “Frankenfoods.” And the simple fact that they list protein last is a telltale sign they have no clue about nutrition.
4.) Limit foods and beverages that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages. We’ve already discussed the sugar part of this recommendation. But it’s worth noting that the rest of these recommendations have flimsy support to say the least. Saturated fat can be a bona fide health food, especially where your metabolic health is concerned. And our bodies need sodium to work properly. Plus, plenty of research has pointed out the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. Just stick with clear liquors—not beer and wine—without sugary mixers. (Think vodka and club soda instead of Jack and Coke.)
A grocery list for an early grave
Now that we’ve gone over the “new rules,” let’s take a closer look at what types of food they’re recommending. And then, I’ll tell you what you should be eating instead…
1.) Vegetables of all types (dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables). Sure, veggies are obviously great. But let’s call a legume a legume—beans, peas, and lentils aren’t vegetables. And starchy veggies? You can thank the potato lobby for that nonsense.
2.) Fruits (especially whole fruit). I’m sorry, but is there any other kind of fruit than whole fruit? Not to mention, while some fruits (like berries) are fine in small quantities, others are packed with fructose (sugar). And guess what? Sugar—in all its forms—kills. So clearer guidelines on types of fruit and quantities would be more ideal.
3.) Grains, at least half of which are whole grain. First of all, even whole grains aren’t particularly healthy. But I think it’s safe to say that there’s no redeeming value to “white foods,” whether we’re talking about rice, bread, or pasta. So why not just say “whole grains only… in moderation”?
4.) Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and lactose-free versions; and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives. I don’t even know where to begin with this. Fat-free, low-fat, lactose-free, or fortified—it all means one thing: processed. (And therefore, unhealthy.)
5.) Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Most of these recommendations are fine. (As you know, protein is crucial to good health and healthy aging, as I discuss on page 2.) But do you see a pattern emerging here? How many times has genetically modified soy been thrust into this conversation?
6.) Oils, including vegetable oils and oils in food, such as seafood and nuts. Did they forget the fact that vegetable oils—which America produces first and foremost—are hideous by their very nature? Would it really be so hard to eliminate vegetable oils (like soybean and canola oil) from their recommendations entirely? And instead, recommend healthy oils with good fats—like macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil?
Dietary guidance you can actually count on
Of course, I probably don’t need to point out that this isn’t the first time the USDA has ended up in my crosshairs. And it’s certainly not the first time that their questionable stance on sugar, in particular, has raised an eyebrow.
Scandal after scandal has shown that, for the last 50 years, dietary recommendations for heart disease prevention have been based on fraudulent research. And the sugar industry itself had a hand in shaping the useless guidelines that mainstream physicians still cling to today.
So let me be clear: Take the USDA’s dietary recommendations for Americans with a big grain of salt. Because while eating healthy is a commitment, that doesn’t mean it can’t be decadent and delicious. And it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Sure, there are things you’re going to have to give up, no matter what. But, you might as well make sure you’re giving up the right things.
You can start by reading the ingredients lists of the food you buy very carefully. It’s surprising how many seemingly “safe” foods hide sugar, corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates. (Soups, stocks, and sauces are especially common offenders—not to mention processed meats like bacon or sausage.)
Other ingredients to avoid include honey, concentrated fruit juice, barley malt, rice syrup, cane sugar, agave, maple sugar, and anything that ends in “-ose” or “-ol.”
But the simplest approach is to avoid ALL packaged, processed foods—and to just ignore the rest of the USDA’s ridiculous guidance—altogether.
Instead, follow a naturally sugar-free (and fat- and protein-rich) plan like my A-List Diet instead, which focuses on fresh, whole foods like lean protein, nutritious, non-starchy vegetables, and nuts. You’ll have countless health benefits to gain—and perhaps even a few pounds to lose!
(Purchase yourself a copy from www.AListDietBook.com.)
- “New Dietary Guidelines Omit Recommended Cuts to Sugar, Alcohol Intake.” Medscape Medical News, 12/29/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/943344)