Health News

The HNC launched in October 2010 out of shared concern that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans were not having the intended impact on rates of obesity and other chronic diseases. The ongoing focus of the Guidelines has been to prevent chronic disease; however, the science indicates that there is no general dietary pattern that can accomplish this across a diverse population. Prevention of chronic disease through dietary and lifestyle modification is best left to healthcare practitioners and their individual patients. Our position is that the Guidelines must return their focus to ensuring that Americans meet their complete nutritional needs at all stages of life. To accomplish this, the Coalition seeks to educate and assist healthcare professionals, policy makers, legislators, and the public.

In addition, we are creating a coalition of supporters to speak out against the direction the Guidelines have been taking since their inception in 1980, and to offer this alternative approach. Our membership is broad-based and includes scientists, healthcare professionals, members of the food and agricultural community, health advocacy groups, and most of all, concerned citizens.

To help achieve our goals, in 2015 we composed a letter that we delivered to the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, selected policymakers, and interested media outlets.  The letter is copied below (with a link to the pdf as well).  If you wish to sign on, please use this quick form to add your information to the letter.

We are adding to the momentum building in the national media and among other health advocacy organizations demanding that our policy makers critically examine the process used to develop the DGA. We suggest a slightly different approach – we have as our primary goal changing the focus of  future Guidelines to that of ensuring adequate nutrition for all Americans.

Ultimately, we hope to positively impact our food, nutrition, and health systems by developing an understanding and awareness of the social, cultural, and economic forces that not only impact American’s access to nutritional information and to the foods needed to support health, but shape American’s attitudes about nutrition and relationships to food.

I encourage you to share this with friends and colleagues whom you feel may be interested in this critically important issue.…

Diet Recipes

Throwing a dinner party has become increasingly challenging over the years.  In addition to creating a menu to please a crowd, hosts have to account for the various dietary restrictions guests may have.  When faced with this task, many of us to turn to Google- or, we may create an individual dish just for that one guest.  This can leave your guest feeling guilty about your extra effort.  All too often, we forget about our favorite dishes that are unintentionally gluten free or vegetarian, and loved by many.  I wanted to provide my readers with a brief overview of some of the most common dietary restrictions.  I’ve also shared my favorite tested (and loved) recipes that will meet everyone’s needs.

Vegetarian*

Vegetarianism can mean a range of different things, so you may want to check with your guests ahead of time about their specific needs.  All vegetarians avoid meat (think chicken, pork, beef), but some do eat seafood.  In this case, they are actually referred to as “pescatarian.”  Unlike vegans, vegetarians do tend to eat some animal products, including eggs and dairy; however, some may avoid eggs.   A vegetarian that eats both eggs and dairy is referred to as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.  Personally, I adore vegetarian dishes as they tend to be loaded with flavor.  I find that Italian cuisine has many unintentionally vegetarian options enjoyed by carnivores and vegetarians alike.

  • Arugula Salad with Lentils, Garlic and Goat Cheese– The best Summer salad.  Lentils and cheese make this salad meal-worthy.  Also pairs nicely with fish if your guests happen to be pescatarian.
  • Miso French Onion Soup (New York Times)– What? Vegetarian french onion soup? This version is even better than the classic beef-based option.
  • Spanakopita– Your guests will ask for leftovers of this delicious Greek dish.
  • Polenta Lasagna– The sauteed winter kale adds a “meatiness” to this dish.  Also a gluten free option
Health Guide/Instructions

Lactose intolerance refers to difficulty digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk.  Lactose intolerance can also be variable.  Some people avoid all milk products (yogurt, cheese, milk, ice cream, cream sauce); however, others may eat yogurt which is more easily digested due to the partial breakdown of lactose by the bacteria.  Certain cheeses, such as swiss cheese, are naturally lactose free and therefore can be substituted easily into a dish for a lactose intolerant friend.  One of my favorite cheese companies, Cabot, offers a delicious lactose free sharp white cheddar.  I want to highlight that lactose intolerance is very different from a milk allergy.  A milk allergy refers to the need to completely avoid all sources of milk protein (including baked in food).  Milk allergic friends need to avoid butter and any trace of milk.

  • Weekend Thai Chicken Pizza– This pizza is loaded with toppings, including grated carrots, so there is no need to include the cheese.  Leave off the cheese or use a lactose free variety.  Always a crowd pleaser.
  • Thai Fish Curry (Chatelaine)– Coconut milk adds a creaminess without the lactose.
  • Salmon Burgers with Spicy Avocado Topping– A great idea for your next casual get together.  An avocado-based topping means your lactose-free guests don’t have to miss out on the sauce.

Weeknight Thai Chicken Pizza by Eating with a Purpose

Gluten Free

Gluten free involves the avoidance of the protein in wheat, barley and rye.  If a friend follows a gluten free diet due to celiac disease, he or she needs to absolutely avoid all traces of gluten (similar to an allergy).  This also means great care needs to be taken into food preparation to minimize cross contamination (think different cutting boards).  Luckily, there are are a large variety of gluten free substitutes on the market.  Be careful, because gluten free is not synonymous with healthy.  Many packaged gluten free products are produced from refined grains.  Try to choose naturally gluten free whole grains in your dishes such as corn, quinoa and buckwheat.  Instead of serving pasta, try a polenta or risotto.  Purchase corn tortillas for a build your own taco bar or serve quinoa or potatoes as a side instead of bread.

  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Plum Reduction (substitute gluten-free tamari in place of the soy sauce; serve with roast potatoes and a salad)
  • Lyonnaise Salad for Two
  • Fish Tacos– These tacos are up there with those from our local street truck.  Ensure you use 100% corn tortillas for gluten free guests.
  • Maple-Seared Scallops with Creamy Kale (Chatelaine)– So gourmet, and only a few ingredients needed.
  • A Vancouverite’s Take on Shrimp and Grits– This dish is perfect served over quinoa!
  • Quinoa Gratin– Veggies, grains and protein in one dish.  A go-to for me.  Serve with a green salad.
  • Mushroom Risotto– This dish speaks for itself.  Also vegetarian if vegetable broth is used in place of chicken broth.
Obesity

Data from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Center for Health Statistics, Division of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults: United States, Trends 1976–1980 Through 2007–2008.

Everyone deserves reasonable access to accurate information about nutrition and how food choices influence health. However, the health needs of our diverse population are not being met by current food policies and by standardized nutrition recommendations.

A sense of community has arisen around questioning our nation’s current approach to food and nutrition. The Healthy Nation Coalition has garnered support from a wide range of interested parties in the academic, public health, medical, agricultural, educational, and philanthropic communities. We reject the notion that there is one approach to diet that works for all Americans. We believethat by joining these communities with other efforts underway in food system reform and government accountability, we can foster positive changes in our food, nutrition, and health systems that will benefit all Americans.

Our practices, values, and beliefs about food, nutrition, and health are multi-faceted and idiosyncratic. In addition, each of us—while having much in common—is a unique metabolic puzzle. How do we encourage progress in our food, nutrition, and health systems—which are equally complex and intertwined—with an understanding that food is not just about nutrients and that individualnutritional needs can be highly varied?

The Healthy Nation Coalition will  promote three key concepts to address that question:

1) Essential Nutrition – a movement to help individuals and families better understand and meet their own essential nutritional needs at their life stage(s).  This is our first and foremost goal and we are actively working to effect change in this area.

2) Open Nutrition – a movement to raise awareness regarding the laws, policies, institutions, and other social, economic, and cultural forces that impact access to nutrition information and development of sustainable systems that produce foods that support

3) Cultural Nutrition – a movement to foster an understanding of the cultural forces that shape our nutrition beliefs and our relationships to food and food communities.

Help us create thoughtful progress towards a better nourished and healthierfuture for all Americans.…