Meating new guidelines

Every five years, new dietary guidelines are released in the United States. These guidelines are reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services and once agreed upon, the new guidelines become law. Julie Ann Henstenberg, the Director of Nutrition at La Salle University, presented on the new guidelines which are scheduled to be official in the fall of 2015.

Julie Anne Henstenberg, Director of Nutrition at La Salle University. Photo from Lasalle.edu
Julie Anne Henstenberg, Director of Nutrition at La Salle University. Photo from Lasalle.edu

These guidelines set the standard for dietary and nutrition in the United States. Since these guidelines become law, they are open for discussion and comments from citizens.  Henstenberg said “They [guidelines] have never been too out there, like make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables”. She continued to describe that the committee always felt that guidelines could be influenced due to the power of the food industry if guidelines became too specific. This time around, some critics are finding the guidelines a little tough to swallow.

Food Sustainability and Safety is a brand new guideline and its creating controversy. Based off scientific reports and findings, the guidelines make the recommendation to lower red meat consumption. Healthy nutrition is now defined as low intake red and processed meat. With this decision Henstenberg asked the question, “Who’s going to define what our guidelines are?”

Everyone in the United States can help define the guidelines because all laws are open for comment and debate. However, some of the most astonishing information for red meat consumption reduction comes from Johns Hopkins. Hopkins found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation. The industry is also contributing to the reduction of the Amazon Rainforest. Soy is grown in South America in the rainforest. Soy farmers are cutting down the rain forest to make more room to grow soy.

"Meatless Monday" logo. Photo from tumblr.com
“Meatless Monday” logo. Photo from tumblr.com

“Meatless Mondays is becoming a popular trend,” said Henstenberg. Not eating meat one day a week will reduce consumption for healthier living and a healthier planet.

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La Salle supports residents with health program

Dr. Edie Goldbacher is a clinical health psychologist at La Salle University. As a professor, she teaches mainly doctoral students about the psychological effects of weight issues. She serves as a resource for members of both the La Salle and local community when it comes to weight loss and healthy eating. She focuses with her weight loss program participants on the importance of nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Dr. Edie Goldbacher. Photo from La Salle University
Dr. Edie Goldbacher. Photo from La Salle University

The American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a medical condition. Between 1990 and 2010, some regions in the United States went from little to no data on BMI (Body Mass Index) to 30 percent of the population over a BMI of 30. The BMI is the weight-height ratio of an individual and is used to calculate if someone is overweight or not.

While there are a variety of reasons of obesity, a special look is being taken at childhood obesity. Some of the reasons for childhood obesity include poor food choices and lack of physical activity. These reasons are common in impoverished neighborhoods. These neighborhoods tend to have more community violence causing residents, especially children, to stay inside for their own safety.

Goldbacher’s programs focus on “helping people learn new behaviors”. Goldbacher said when working with participants, the overall goal may be to lose 40 pounds. We break it down into smaller more achievable goals. When it comes to the relapse prevention stage of the program, Goldbacher asks her participants “You’ve lost some weight, you’ve changed your eating behaviors, and now how do we maintain that.”

Some of the psychological factors are the reasons for the weight problem. Goldbacher helps to identify the thinking patterns to help the participant. Participants track how much food is eaten and the exercise.

The program runs 12-20 weeks and the cost varies based on the participant’s income. The program has a basic structure but is customized to each participant’s abilities and desires. The program is run through La Salle University.