BY PAM LOBLEY
NOW THAT’S FUNNY
The old food pyramid used by the U.S. government to help us decide how to eat healthily is being replaced by a plate. The new design, called MyPlate, (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html), was all over the news this week. It is a plate divided into simple categories that give you a clear idea of how much protein, and how many grains, fruits and vegetables you should be eating daily.
Michelle Obama presided over the unveiling of the new symbol, which is seen as another weapon in her fight against obesity. She maintains that the old pyramid was confusing, and that expecting people to measure their food out (3 oz. of protein?) is unrealistic. But, she says, “we do have time to look at our kids’ plates.”
This assumes, of course, that you’re eating off a plate.
Many meals are eating in a car, on the run, standing up at the kitchen counter. My kids eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. We eat popcorn or yogurt while we do homework by the computer. My husband eats a breakfast bar in the car. When he comes home late, he often stands at the stove and eats right out of the serving pan. He’s too tired and hungry to put it on a plate.
The most noticeable thing about the plate is how much of it is filled with fruits and vegetables. Half. Half of you dinner needs to be veggies and fruits. Mine is not.
I am very glad Ms. Obama has chosen to address obesity, because it is a serious problem and getting worse each year. As a mother, she has a lot of credibility when she talks about how to feed your family a healthy diet. But she has a cook, and plenty of money. She can afford to fill her plate with fresh vegetables. She can afford to eat pineapple in February.
My friend Jane recently changed her diet to eat more fruits and vegetables. She looks great! When I complimented her she thanked me and then grumbled … “Yeah, but my food bill when up $40 a week.”
Buying produce is expensive, and buying organic is simply out of reach for most people. You can grow your own, as Ms. Obama is doing at The White House. But she has room to cultivate a big garden, and people to tend it. I planted several pots of lettuce, parsley and cilantro. Two pots have seedlings. Four are plain dirt. Nothing is growing. I don’t have time to figure out why. I might go buy some plants and put them in the pots, but I did that last year and only got one harvest, so it really didn’t save any money.
Changing America’s eating habits will be hard, if not impossible. We have become a sedentary, munching, non-cooking, populace. We order takeout. We snack. We sit around. We do this even though we know we shouldn’t. It is not for lack of information that people are overweight, it’s for lack of action. We simply aren’t taking the steps we need to be healthy, because, guess what? It’s easier to be unhealthy, and cheaper, too.
We need motivation. How about this … a national campaign to get people into department store dressing rooms. Instead of exercise, spend a half an hour in your underwear in front of those three-way mirrors with the ghastly overhead lighting. The view of your rear-end will shock your far more than any statistic on salt.
I don’t know about you, but I rarely try on clothes anymore. I am so busy, and I kind of know my size, so I just grab the stuff off the rack at Target and take it home. When I put it on at home, I mostly just check out how I look from the front and side. I certainly don’t spend any time looking at myself in my underwear. Perhaps this is what’s wrong with America; we’ve stopped using department store dressing rooms.
Once we get back in the habit of looking at ourselves in those unforgiving three-way mirrors, things can change. Then, and only then, will a plate half-filled with costly fresh vegetables that you had to prepare yourself, seem like a desirable choice.
Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Sign up for her mailing list at www.pamlobley.com.