Q It seems like everybody is giving nutrition advice. I read that the World Wide Fund for Nature has a campaign called “Future 50 Foods: 50 Foods for Healthier People and a Healthier Planet.” Did they get it right for people? BA, Greenville
A You are definitely right. Thanks for asking. As you know I ask my colleagues and ECU medical and dietetic students to help find answers to questions I can’t easily answer. Today, Jordan Harris, an ECU senior dietetic student will tell you that in in today’s world, everyone is giving you their 2 cents about nutrition. This is what she wants you to know about th eFuture 50 Foods campaign, a cause she feels good about getting behind.
This campaign serves two purposes. The first is to increase our knowledge about the number of affordable food choices out there in the world. The second is to support foods that have a lower impact on the environment than animal-based products. This adds up to us being healthier by eating a more nutritious and varied diet while having a positive impact on the health of our world.
When sound nutritional advice is combined with the spirit of sustainability, it is a force to be reckoned with. Although some countries have added sustainability to their dietary guidelines, the U.S. has not. Hopefully it will be in the upcoming 2020 guidelines.
While I am a proponent of what the World Wide Fund for Nature is proposing, I have a responsibility to give you the full picture. After becoming familiar with the campaign, it has become evident to me that there are two questions that need to be answered so that the everyday person can use this information.
The first question is how do we make this food accessible to everyday individuals? At first glance, I wanted to try every food on the list, not because I think grains like fonio, amaranth, and finger millet have “unique” health benefits that I can’t get elsewhere, but because I like trying new foods. However, I have a hard time finding these more non-local grains here in Greenville.
How do we go about expanding our diet when our local resources are limited? One of the simple solutions to questions like this is using the internet. A Google search for fonio tells me not only who sells it, but also the distance from me to the manufacturer. In addition, you can order it right to your house. The internet is a great tool to use to expand your nutritional horizons.
Another solution is to use this as an opportunity to explore the resources our community offers. Make a goal this week to try a new grocery store or explore the farmer’s market. The market keeps changing, and if you haven’t been in a while, try it again. It is open all year (see https://www.pittcountync.gov/599/Farmers-Market). If we look, we can find healthy and affordable options in our community that can be used to expand our diet.
The second question that I have is how much of this food constitutes a serving? Research has shown us that as obesity rates have increased, so have serving sizes. Therefore, serving sizes should be a sound part of any nutritional advice that is given or nutritional guidelines that are promoted. We need to use the Nutrition Facts label to estimate the serving sizes that will be appropriate for our diet. The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration recently updated the serving sizes for many products to make them realistic. The calories per serving are now clearly marked!
My last piece of advice is to start with small changes to your diet. While it is impressive that the World Wide Fund for Nature found and researched 50 healthy and sustainable foods for your viewing pleasure, you probably will not get to try them all and that is not a bad thing. Fifty potential new food choices is an overwhelming amount. Start with foods you may have heard about but may not have tried or only eat rarely like lentils, quinoa, wild rice, okra, beets, kale, spinach,and walnuts. These foods are all on the list and are readily available at many local grocery stores for an affordable price.
If you are looking for guidelines to evaluate your diet, use the advice at choosemyplate.gov. The nutritionists behind this website offer many suggestions that will help you build a balanced diet while also giving you recipes to make this possible. The photos of the foods are gorgeous, the descriptions easy to read and understand and the preparation tips motivating in the Future 50 booklet, so take a look: https://www.wwf.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-2/Knorr_Future_50_Report_FINAL_Online.pdf