Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating patterns doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three healthy eating patterns, all of which include eggs. But what are the sample eating patterns, and what are the key differences between them?

To learn more about healthy eating patterns, including those recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and how eggs fit within those patterns, explore the following PowerPoint, and feel free to share it with friends!

Healthy Eating Patterns: How do Eggs Fit?

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Change:It’s What You Make of It

 

Over the past three weeks I have gone through quite a few changes between starting a new job, having a longer commute, traveling for conferences and transitioning to past president of the Illinois Dietetic Association.  I embrace change and tend to jump right in and tackle my new adventure.  Change is how we thrive and progress, however for some it can be challenging.

I am reminded of the book “Who Moved My Cheese.  At our exhibits for health professionals, ENC has started using an online survey related to the perceptions of eggs and nutrition. I was just looking at data from our most recent show and noted the question “How many whole eggs do you recommend your healthy clients eat each week?”  We had almost equal responses of 1-3 or 3-5 eggs daily (total~72 %).  Only a total of 23% answered 5-7 or more than 7 and some answered none.  Although we have the research showing the wonderful benefits of eggs and know that an egg a day is good; we can see it is difficult for some people to shift their mindset and accept this change.

Interestingly enough, during the conversations at the AAPA conference, I picked up on the following trends, which I related to characters in the book:

Sniff

Who sniffs out change early

“I’ve always eaten eggs and knew they were good.”

Scurry

Who scurries into action

“I heard the new information and changed immediately.”

Hem

Who denies and resists change as he fears

it will lead to something worse

“I cannot tell clients to eat eggs daily because they are “bad”. It will only cause more problems.”

Haw

Who learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better!

 “I’ve been watching the research and was cautious at first, but now I am suggesting it now because (reason)”.

 There was one comment that didn’t necessarily fit in a character in the book:

“I eat eggs every day, but don’t suggest it to my clients”. Hopefully they are just mirroring Haw and will soon let everyone know “It’s All In An Egg”!

We have to think about how to educate people from all levels, because change is internal and is different for everyone.  Not everyone is Scurry and I think realizing this can help us educate our health professionals and clients.

2010 DGA Consumer Tool and Icon

My Plate
I’ve had the opportunity to think about the new USDA MyPlate icon. I saw it a couple of weeks ago and again when it was released to the public. At first I didn’t appreciate how it would succeed in committing people who eat on the run to consider the message of balance and portion control. However, I now appreciate that a change was needed and using a plate may actually help people to reflect on their eating habits.

Like the Food Guide Pyramid which morphed into the MyPyramid, the shape did not instruct one on how to construct a meal. The pyramid focused on the concept of a daily intake which resonated only within the dietetics world. A public communication tool should relate to nutrition on a meal basis which is why a plate is more appropriate. My concern is that we have stopped eating on plates.  Perhaps seeing our meals laid out, so we get a visual of portion adequacy, will help us to tame the out of control eating patterns we’ve developed. Too many times our meals are consumed in a cup or from a bag while in a car or at a desk.

When I asked Dr. Robert Post who directed the MyPlate.gov launch, how the public would be able to use this plate concept when they eat on the run, his response was that it is meant to be a reminder. An icon which reminds people that foods need to fit into a meal pattern and when accompanied by a relevant message which doesn’t grow stale, it can educate. He also pointed out that the icon is just a tool which directs one to the website where there is a wealth of information waiting to be accessed. In my humble opinion, this is a great improvement and a major step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see how well the tool communicates the desired messages.

To learn more about the new MyPlate icon:

An Egg A Day is OK

Most of you have probably seen or heard some of the highlights of the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines. With respect to healthy meal patterning, the Guidelines heavily stressed the inclusion of nutrient dense foods in the diets- foods that give you lots of nutrients, and not a lot of calories – foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs. The Guidelines also indicate that we should de-emphasize the use of solid fats (mainly saturated and trans fats), simple sugars, refined grains and sodium. Nothing earth-shattering here, but a good reminder that the “4 S’s” (solid fats; starches; sugars; salt) can wreak havoc on our diet and our health if eaten in excess.

dietary-guidelines-for-americans-2010

From an Egg Nutrition Center perspective, we were heartened to see that the Guidelines, for the first time, actually indicate that eating an egg-a-day is OK. No doubt that this was an acknowledgment that eggs are a great source of high quality protein, and a great nutrient dense food.  Likely factoring into this conclusion as well were studies such as those by Qureshi et al (Med Sci Monitor. 2007; 13:CR1-8)   which indicated that regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke or cardiovascular diseases; and Lee et al. (Brit Nutr Found 2006; 31:21-27) which indicate that eating eggs daily does not have significant impact on blood cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Often overlooked by the public, the Dietary Guidelines offer a treasure trove of good information about diet, health and nutrition in easy-to-understand language. If you’re interested, you can access the Guidelines via this link: 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

 It’s worth a look-see.

2010 Dietary Guidelines: Focus on Nutrient Density

According to Monday’s announcement of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, proper balance is the key to a healthy diet.  The Guidelines point out that many Americans consume less than optimal intake of certain nutrients even though they have adequate resources for a healthy diet. The Guidelines also recommend that Americans focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

Though the concept of “nutrient density” is either new or misunderstood by many consumers, it’s basically a term that speaks to the amount of good, solid nutrition you can pack into a food for the fewest calories possible. And eating highly nutritious, lower calorie foods (i.e., nutrient dense foods) can have obvious implications for promoting weight control and good health.  A “poster child” for nutrient density is the egg. Try to think of a natural food product besides the egg that packs so much nutrition- -13 vitamins and minerals and 7 gms of high quality protein, into a 70 calorie package. I’ll bet you can’t do it.  So it’s no accident that the recent Guidelines call out eggs in a number of instances as an example of a good nutrient dense food. Coupled with the fact that an egg costs only about $0.15 per serving, it’s understandable to think why the egg should be considered one of our most “efficient” foods (efficient calorically/nutritionally; efficient economically!).

So how can you bring a little more nutrient density into you own diet?  An easy fix is to substitute an egg in the morning (70 kcals) for (the admittedly more convenient) Pop Tart (210 kcals; 8 gms fat; 13 gms sugar). Another would be to replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats (e.g.-certain cuts of meat) with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories   (e.g.-fish, chicken, eggs).

Obviously there is a bit of individuality in how we can bring a little more “nutrient density” into our lives. However you choose to do it, focus on foods that will give you the most “bang-for-your buck” nutritionally; foods low in calories that are highly nutritious. They do exist. You just may have to search a bit!

-Mitch

2010 Dietary Guidelines: Focus on High Quality Protein

On January 31st, the USDA and HHS presented the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and thereby upheld their Congressionally mandated responsibility to provide science-based nutritional and dietary guidance to the general public in a document that serves as the foundation for federal nutrition education and promotion programs. This was the first time the dietary guidelines were based on an evidence based body of scientific knowledge, reviewed by an elite group of scientific advisors, and written to suggest best practices for the many stakeholders that produce and deliver food to the American public. This is no small task and those who participated should be widely commended.

A main focus of the guidance is to consume nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density, possibly an unfortunate term, defines a food by its nutrient content for the amount of calories it provides. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals should “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” and “replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats”. Choosing foods that supply high quality protein with minimal solid or unhealthful fats would be an example of nutrient density. If seafood and fish were plentiful and affordable it would be easy to “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” as recommended. Milk, meat, poultry, and eggs in addition to seafood supply high quality protein along with many valuable nutrients in natural combinations that have supported life on earth and allowed mankind to evolve. Therefore, for optimal health it is important to vary lean protein foods including lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds to get a full complement of all the needed nutrients.

Although the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are correct in stressing the importance of incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into the American diet, it is still important to remember that high quality protein foods supply many nutrients such as heme iron, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc which are in short supply in fruits/vegetables and whole grains. If there are foods to be avoided, I would suggest the grain based desserts (pie, pastry, granola bars) which from the tables and charts within the guidance document appear to supply substantial amounts of both solid fats and added sugar without a sufficient nutrient balance.

– Marcia