Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are we weird?

Reading a few blogs of late has caused me to ask that question.

Heather has made the comment that she doesn't eat "normal" food. I love to read what she is eating. But I will admit, some of her food is "out there" for me (oatgurt?). But it's "out there" not in a "gross" kinda way, but in a "hmm...I will have to try that" kinda way. I say, it's good to not be normal these days. Because "normal", is overweight and sedentary.

Most recently, the fruit-and-vegetable recommendations are what have made me feel a bit weird. Now, anyone who reads about health, diet, and exercise knows that in the last couple of years, the recommendations on produce have been increased from 5 servings a day to 9 servings per day (for an adult). Heck, even now my 3-year old should be getting 3 cups (he doesn't. I bet there are kids out there who do, like these. But he gets 1.5 cups most days and 3 on some days.)

That got me wondering...why was the recommendation increased? Was it increased because most Americans get only 3-4 servings a day (only 1.5 to 2 cups)? So the though is if the recommendation is 9, maybe now they'll get 5-6? Was it increased because the produce we eat today has less nutrition than in the past? Even the fresh veggies are picked far before ripening and are bred for shelf stability, not flavor or nutrients. Is it in the hopes that Americans will replace some of the less-than-healthy foods in their diets with more fruits and veggies? Maybe a combination of all 3.

I recently had a few conversations with some women in my life in an older generation. Namely, relatives in their 60's. I got a bit of a flabbergasted reaction when I mentioned that we eat about 30 lbs of produce a week among the 3 of us. I started to wonder if I'm weird. But I've done the math based on the recommendations:

My math uses the following assumption
1 serving = 1/2 cup = 4 oz.
(recognizing that leafy greens a serving is a cup, and probably weighs less).

High end:
2 adults @9 servings/day = 18 servings @4 oz = 4.5 lbs
1 toddler @6 servings/day = 6 servings @4 oz = 1.5 lbs
6 lbs/day x 7 days = 42 lbs per week

Low end:
2 adults @5 servings/day = 10 servings @4 oz = 2.5 lbs
1 toddler @3 servings/day = 3 servings @4 oz = 0.75 lbs
3.25 lbs/day x 7 days = 22.75 lbs per week.

So at about 30 lbs, we come in right in the middle.

I think part of the reaction to the amounts stems from serving sizes. Many of the older adults that I know maintain a reasonable weight. They may eat meat at every meal, but just enough to flavor the dish. They often grew up in times of scarcity. They eat healthful meals, but in smaller amounts than most people do today. (It also might be a factor that I know a disproportionate number of women from foreign countries (Asia and Europe)). My husband's uncle (from Europe) visited several years ago and was flabbergasted at the serving sizes of even the salads.

The most recent conversation included the comment "don't you think that eating all those veggies really is going to fill you up and make you uncomfortable?" I think that's sort of the point. "Volumetrics" is based completely on that premise...that it's the volume of food that matters in filling you up, and that's how you lose weight. Eat foods with low calories per unit volume (more veggies). In fact, I eat veggies and fruit FIRST. Yes, they fill me I might be hungry sooner. And that's okay. I eat my fruit at 10 am, and I'm hungry for lunch.

This week, we've gotten (among CSA and farmer's market and stores)
3 lbs strawberries
3 lbs bananas
3 lbs apples
1 lb tomatoes
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 lb peppers
1 large head lettuce (2.5 lbs)
1.5 lbs celery
1.5 lbs onion
1 bunch kale
3 large carrots
2.5 lbs broccoli
1 lb edamame
1 lb peas (frozen)
1 large avocado

That's 24 lbs right there, plus we've got some dried fruits and dried beans and canned tomatoes to round out the menu.

What do you think? Is 30 lbs a week for a family of 3 too much? Too little?

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I think you're doing fine.

I like your thinking, and these are the kinds of views I encourage at my blog too. Produce takes up a lot of room in your stomach, thus it keeps you from eating excessive amounts of high-fat, hyperpalatable foods that aren't good for you. Plus all the fiber and antioxidants are good for your body too.

What's normal? What's normal is eating what's right for you, not what's conventional in our society.

Casual Kitchen