What Is a Healthy Diet?
It goes without saying that there is a lot of interest in what constitutes a an ideal healthy diet among both scientists and the general public. And it also goes without saying that the general public is even more interested in the ideal diet for losing weight. But this is not a new story..There is a brief timeline illustrating the emergence of a variety of special diets.
A Timeline of Fad Diets
This is just a partial list.
- 1830:The creator of the Graham cracker introduced a high fiber diet.
- 1863: Englishman William Banting managed to lose weight on a low-carb diet and promoted it in a booklet.
- 1903: The idea of chewing each bite of food 32 times came into vogue as a means of promoting health and losing weight.
- 1917: Los Angeles physician Lulu Hunt Peters introduced the world to calorie counting with the bestseller "Diet and Health With Key to the Calories."
- 1925: Lucky Strike cigarettes did its part to promote health by introducing the slogan, "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet."
- 1928: The Inuit diet. Eskimos have low rates of heart disease, so the idea was to mimic this by eating caribou, raw fish and whale blubber.
- 1930: The grapefruit diet. Grapefruit is still often recommended as an important part of a weight loss diet by many.
- 1934: The United Fruit Co. introduced the bananas and skim milk diet,
- 1950: The cabbage soup diet was introduced. Of course, if you eat nothing but cabbage soup, you will lose weight mainly because eating becomes unpleasant.
- 1960: The Zen macrobiotic diet is introduced, focusing on consumption of grains.
- 1961: Weight Watchers begins, with a focus on management of eating instead of dieting per se.
- 1964: "The Drinking Man's Diet" includes beer and cocktails at lunch and dinner.
- 1975 The Pritikin Longevity Center opened in California. Their program emphasizes eating unprocessed whole foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and protein.
- 1976: The Sleeping Beauty diet recommends sedation for several days as a way to promote weight loss. This can be achieved with large doses of sedatives and alcohol.
- 1981: The Beverly Hills diet focuses on the best combinations of goods to eat.
- 1985: The cave man diet recommended food a diet similar to what was presumably eaten during the Paleolithic era by hunters and gatherers.
- 1985: A variety of vegetarian diets were promoted
- 1990s: The Mediterranean diet gained attention.
- 1994: Dr. Atkins, a cardiologist, noted that his patients lost weight on a diet low in sugar and carbohydrates, but which included fats and proteins.
- 1995: Sugar is declared the problem.
- 1996: "Eat Right for Your Type" by Peter J. D'Adamo paired diets with blood type.
- 2000: The self-explanatory raw foods diet made an appearance.
- 2003: "The South Beach Diet" tells us to stop eating sugar, flour and baked potatoes.
- 2010s: "The Paleo Diet," "The Paleo Solution" and "The Primal Blueprint" books
USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Since 1980, guidelines have been issued and updated jointly by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years. The guidelines have evolved over time, as documented in the links below. However, these recommendations have been fairly consistent in recommending a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit, and limited amounts of red meat, processed food, fat, and simple carbohydrates. The last link on the right describes the current recommendations.
The evolution of the guidelines reflects the constant evaluation and incorporation of new information. In contrast to fad diets, these recommendations are based on an exhaustive review of all available information and a rigorous evaluation of the evidence by a panel of experts with a broad array of expertise. The document in the iFrame below gives and indication of how rigorously the available evidence is reviewed every five years. Note also the expertise of the committee members.
The Committee developed a socio-ecological conceptual model which embraced individual lifestyle behavior change, food and physical activity, the environment, and also food sustainability and safety. As such, you are encouraged to scan the document looking for ideas and clues about the recommendations that you will provide to Weymouth.