Yes, you read that headline right!
I realize as I write this piece that many people out there will be shocked to hear that for once I’m in near complete agreement with “America’s Toughest Trainer”, Jillian Michaels.
As you may know from reading my post, Why Biggest Isn’t Best I’ve been a fierce critic of Jillian in the past – both her training style, and the basic premise behind her hit NBC’s show The Biggest Loser.
But it seems as though Jillian, having left The Biggest Loser (she’s now a correspondent for Dr. Phil and The Doctors), has settled down a bit and relates her information in a calmer, cooler way, albeit with the same flared nostrils! I recently started following her on Twitter and often check in to see what she has to say. In fact, I recently complimented her for her Shape Magazine cover and she thanked me! As I said, I may be The Angry Trainer, but I’m certainly not blind!
Anyway, yesterday Jillian tweeted a link to an article she’d written, We Need Policy Not Plates where she basically called out the White House for its hypocrisy when dealing with the food industry. Michelle Obama’s new My Plate food guide, which replaces the widely used food pyramid, is what has set Ms. Michaels off. You can feel the anger in her words and you know what – I agree with her!
Jillian goes on to expose the gaps and shortcomings of the new plate system, which is meant to help people more clearly understand what kind of foods should comprise their meals. It’s basically a pie chart with near equal parts fruit, vegetables, grains and protein, and alongside the “plate” is the dairy group, represented by a circle, which looks like a cup of milk. Truthfully I like the original pyramid much better, and without a doubt it was more inclusive with sections for fats, oils and sweets, lists of protein sources, a milk, yogurt and cheese group, as well as how many of each of these groups you should be consuming. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it was definitely better.
In my opinion, the My Plate is a dumbed down version of the pyramid and I think will ultimately confuse more people than help them. Telling people that 50% of their plate should be fruits and vegetables is actually quite vague. The calorie counts within each food group vary greatly, so simply suggesting a particular group take up a certain space on your plate does nothing for the real cause of obesity – overeating. I’m also not sure many people are aware which food fits into each group, and they definitely don’t know what a serving consists of.
Jillian is obviously involved in the politics surrounding food production and agriculture in this country. She quickly points out that while the US government recommends drinking water in place of sugary drinks, the USDA allows our most precious resource, our children, to drink chocolate milk in school everyday. I wrote about my own experience with the food served in my children’s school in Kids And School: The New Food Rules. I can tell you that chocolate milk is just one of many issues surrounding lunchtime food in schools across the country. I’ve seen children first hand eat school bought ice cream for lunch at 11 am! That’s crazy! What’s even more insane is that you and I pay for it.
Jillian then points out that billions of our tax dollars are spent in essence to help produce corn syrup, which is present in many high calorie foods and drinks including soda. It seems a bit hypocritical for the government to recommend for us to not drink soda in the new plan, yet subsidize the manufacturing of its number one ingredient. How embarrassing.
Jillian goes on to say, “Just because one is skinny doesn’t mean they are healthy”. Man am I glad to hear her say that as I know people just assume that if someone appears healthy, they are, and vice versa. In fact ironically I just held a chat for Sears – FitStudio where the topic I addressed was “Being Fit, Not Just Looking It”.
Jillian is quick to point out that nutritious, natural food is not widely available in many parts of the country and asks The President and First Lady for some “real change”. In doing so Ms Michaels calls out another government blunder; cigarettes and alcohol can’t be purchased with tax dollar funded food stamps, yet high sugar and junk food can be. That’s insanity to me. In fact I was on line in my local supermarket a few months ago and watched an overweight woman purchase over one hundred dollars worth of crap; ice cream, various desserts, sodas, processed cereals etc – all with stamps.
Jillian is clearly passionate about the political BS that surrounds and supports the obesity pandemic. And she talks about many other valid issues, as the article is three pages in total. So while I may have taken issue with the show that catapulted Jillian to international fame in the first place, I am a fan of what she’s doing now. I know, it’s hard to believe, but I’ve read many of Michaels’ suggestions, tips, and wellness philosophies and think they’re good. Just don’t work out with her, unless you enjoy being screamed at! I actually have a feeling I’m going to like Jillian much more now that she’s off The Biggest Loser. We’ll see…
But what do you think? Is the new My Plate system easier to understand? Was the old food pyramid confusing for you. Start commenting everyone…