"Drink eight glasses of water a day!" "Eat nine servings of fruits and veggies!" "Stay away from red meat!" From the FDA to our mothers with finger a-wagging, for decades we've heard these "rules for healthy eating".
Well...as it turns out, taking care of yourself isn't quite so black-and-white according to Harvard Medical School psychologist Dr. Alice Domar, coauthor of Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won't Break Your Health.
"Research is revealing that whoever wrote the old guidelines didn't have the whole picture, and that there are more paths to optimal health than we previously thought," says the doc.
and the new ones to replace them...
Old Rule: Drink eight glasses of water a day.
New Rule: Eat your water.
The recommendation to chug all that H2O was likely based on guidelines published in 1945. However, says Howard Murad, MD, author of The Water Secret, much of your daily requirement is contained in foods: Fruits, vegetables, beans, and cooked whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa (which soak up moisture in the pot) all deliver servings of water. And, as Murad points out, they offer the added bonus of nutrients
Old Rule: Eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables.
New Rule: Fill half your plate with produce.
"It's not surprising that people get confused over what, exactly, a serving is," says Washington, D.C., dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield with so much variation and difficult to remember amounts: a serving of broccoli is about five florets; a serving of raw spinach, one cup; a serving of mango, roughly the size of a fist...etc. Her advice: Stop counting and instead make half of every meal produce. "You don't need a big mound on your plate. Six asparagus spears at dinner, a spinach salad at lunch, and a sliced banana and some berries at breakfast should do it."
Old Rule: Avoid red meat.
New Rule: Beef in moderation can be healthy.
Red meat was long considered a heart attack on a plate because it's high in saturated fat. But a 2010 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that the cardiovascular risk comes from processed varieties, such as sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts, not from steak, hamburgers, and other nonprocessed cuts. (The real culprits may be salt and preservatives). Red meat is a good source of iron and immunity-boosting zinc-two nutrients some women don't get enough of.
Old Rule: Keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
New Rule: Eat healthy, exercise, and let your weight settle naturally.
Physicians use BMI (body mass index), a ratio of your weight to your height, as a tool to diagnose obesity. But critics say BMI ignores muscle mass, and a 2011 Obesity study notes that it also ignores a person's hip circumference. "People come in different sizes and shapes," says Joanne Ikeda, nutritionist emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. "The idea that everyone should fall under 25 is ludicrous." A person can have a high BMI and still be healthy, and research supports the theory: A Journal of the American Medical Association study found that fit women--even if they were overweight according to their BMI--were less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who were out of shape.
You have been officially alerted....