The news media was abuzz with stories this week about how the nation’s waistline keeps expanding. “Americans are continuing to get fatter and fatter, with obesity rates reaching 30 percent or more in nine states last year, as opposed to only three states in 2007,” the New York Times reported. The stories brought to mind advice I’ve been hearing at recent health and culinary conferences.
One conference looked at how doctors must give their patients more information about nutritious foods that taste good. The foods include fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, healthy proteins such as seafood, and plant-based oils including olive oil.
“It’s not rocket science. It’s not brain surgery,” said David Eisenberg, an accomplished cook and director of the Osher Research Center at Harvard Medical School, which co-sponsored the conference with the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in the Napa Valley.
The Mediterranean diet was trumpeted as a healthy eating regimen at this conference and another I attended last month in northern California. (You can find a variety of delicious Mediterranean recipes – like spaghetti with white clam sauce and a Lebanese variation of tabbouleh called fattoush – in our August eNewsletter.)
Dr. Eisenberg, meanwhile, ticked off a list of healthy eating tips worth sharing in light of this week’s obesity news:
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and nuts in place of processed carbohydrates.
- Choose healthier carbohydrates – whole grains and foods with lower glycemic loads.
- Choose healthier proteins – emphasize fish, poultry, tofu, nuts and legumes.
- Eliminate trans fat, reduce saturated fats and replace these with healthier, plant-based fats and oils.
- Imagine your “ideal plate” – ¼ protein; ¼ healthier carb; ½ vegetables.
- Also consider the “dessert flip” with more fruit and smaller portions of indulgent desserts.
- Portion control is king – “It’s the calories stupid.”
- Look for opportunities to reduce salt. Season with herbs and spices first.
- In place of sugar sweetened beverages, emphasize water, tea and coffee.
- Enjoy wine/alcohol but not too much!
- Consider the environmental impact of the foods we buy and eat.
It’s all good advice. The experts admit, however, they must hone their message to have a wider impact.
“We need to focus on how to make plant foods as sexy as double cheeseburgers,” said Greg Drescher, executive director of strategic initiatives at the CIA’s Greystone campus, speaking to a recent conference in Silicon Valley that brought together college and university food service chefs and nutritonists.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch