Here’s what I used to eat everyday when I was in my late teens. Quite shocking to see it all laid out like this and in stark contrast to my food now.
I had absolutely no idea of nutrition other than the food pyramid that was taught in school. Back then the food pyramid said it was ok to eat white bread, potatoes, cereals, noodles and didnt mention fizzy drinks or give any indication of portion size. Crisps are potatoes right? Back then I knew that chocolate was bad so I only had 2 max a day, that was good right? I was eating vegetables with my mammy dinner so thats good? I did what the food pyramid told me and didn’t eat any fried food and kept away from any high fat foods, its high fat foods that would make me fat, wouldn’t they? There’s actually comparatively very little fat in this food but there is a mountain of sugar. Sugar is converted to fat when you don’t burn it off by being active or with a high metabolism. I wasn’t very active.
Thankfully the Department of Health updated the food pyramid in June 2012 so now its advising kids to eat healthily and really teaches them the basics of nutrition and about portion sizes. Oh actually, no, wait hang on, it still says you can eat white bread and “at every meal”, that you should eat 6 or more from this list every day: white rice, white or brown bread, white pasta, cereals, white bread rolls, high fibre cereals, white potatoes but to “watch” your portion sizes.
Its about as useful and vague as it ever was. If teaching the food pyramid for the last 20 years worked then why are kids getting fatter? If the food pyramid worked in any way, then why are adults rapidly becoming morbidly obese.? We have some of the highest obesity rates in Europe. If teaching the food pyramid clearly isn’t working, then why keep teaching it? Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” So in 2012 to answer the obesity epidemic the department of health updated the food pyramid by adding more green shit and sexy new graphics.
The “new” food pyramid published by the HSE in June 2012 is taken from the 2011 report: Scientific Recommendations for Healthy Eating Guidance in Ireland (download). Look familiar?
Imagine if I tried to give the food pyramid as a food plan to clients to follow? Absolutely hilarious, I’d be out of business in a week. Can you imagine the results? I’d have to change my slogan to “Andy Kenny Fitness, nonsense methods, fattening results”.
If there’s any teachers reading this, you can no longer take the back seat and plead ignorance. Refuse to teach this rubbish or at least tell your kids that it is rubbish.
Going back to my own food in my teens. I ate Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for breakfast, about 100g portion with milk. Lucozade and a Mars bar for morning break in school. I was given £1 to buy a sandwich but I usually spent it on 10 packets of hot lips or meanies, hilarious now! After school on the way home Id get 2 white rolls and a 1.5 Litre bottle of Club Orange or Rock Shandy. In the evening my mam would give me a home cooked dinner of chicken or beef with veg etc. Later that night I’d be out with my mates and we’d get a Chinese and chocolate on the way home. My parents were unaware of most of the food I was eating, not that I hid it just I wasn’t at home a lot of the time when eating it. My own ignorance was to blame for being overweight.
We’re setting up our kids for another few generations of obesity, teaching the food pyramid to them. And now that its been updated in 2012, the Department of health can point to it and say they updated it recently and are doing everything they can. The food pyramid is at least 30 years out of date in my opinion. Before the availability of cheap sugar filled foods, available in huge portions and for very little money. I was ignorant and stupid to the importance of food and its effects. I might have been an extreme example but sadly it seems I was an early trend setter for the future.
For me, the way to stop the obesity epidemic is a combination of better education, taxes on high fat and high sugar foods and banning of advertising. Not too dissimilar to tobacco or alcohol. In school maybe we should forget teaching kids how to cook in home economics, how about teaching them what you should cook instead?