Monday, May 13, 2013

Book/diet review; The Mayo Clinic Diet

It almost goes without saying that the majority of people in this area are glad to have Rochester's biggest employer in town, and being among them, it was natural for me to take a look at their book when my doctor told me that it was time to either drop some weight, or start taking a cornucopia of pills to control blood sugar and triglycerides.  So let's take a look.

The advice is pretty straightforward, almost common, but it quietly departs from USDA advice on diet in some pretty significant areas.  First of all, the base of the Mayo food pyramid is not grains and starches, but rather fruits and vegetables--of which you can eat as much as you like, at least if you hold the salad dressing, butter, and the like.

Mayo also abolishes the old system of having independent groups for protein and dairy (sorry cheeseheads!), and they reclassify many foods according to their actual nutrient content.  Cheese and peanut butter, for example, fit the category of "fats" better than "proteins."

The book then teaches the reader how to do a basic calorie count, and how to "break down" a meal into its constituent parts.  A slice of pizza, for example, might be a  serving of grains, one of fruits/vegetables, one of protein, and one or two of fat--from the cheese and the crust as well.

Notice that Mayo "quietly" departs from USDA advice.  No comparison is drawn, and no accusations are made.  In doing so, they allow the reader to make his own decisions based on his own worldview--not to mention avoiding the wrath of the USDA and others.  It's a book for adults.

My take, for what it's worth, is that lumping dairy in with meats as "protein" (and sometimes "fats") is a welcome departure from USDA protection of the meat and dairy industries, as well as a recognition that most of the world can't handle dairy after about age 5.  The reversal of the food pyramid order is simultaneously a rejection of USDA grain subsidies and historic dietary advice, an acknowledgement of the insanely high nutrient/calorie ratios of most fruits and vegetables, a healthy helping of the fact that we've got to fill our stomachs with something, and finally a picture of the original "Paleo" diet of Eden.

Finally, the book's first few chapters parallel Peter's Gospel call in Acts 2, by noting that our health really depends on putting off certain habits (TV, meat-centered meals, calorie-rich snacks) and putting on others (movement, fruits and vegetables, and the like)--a process of repentance.  Almost certainly this is not intentional, but it's welcome nonetheless.

In short, I can endorse this diet for far more reasons than the fact that I've edged five pounds closer to where my friend Ray's scale is supposed to read.


pentamom said...

Doesn't that all pretty much fit the current USDA advice, though? The pyramid has turned out to be pretty bad, but what you're describing sounds like the current USDA "plate" model, with the exception of continuing to divide protein from dairy (on the assumption that there's a specific need for calcium-rich foods.)

Bike Bubba said...

Depends on what you mean by "pretty much". Imagine that instead of being of German stock, you were among the 90% of the world that is lactose intolerant and relying on legumes and nuts for completing the proteins found in grains.

Mayo's advice is 100% relevant to you. MyManholeCover will mess you up but good--and tell you you're doing something wrong by wanting to avoid the foods that are giving you the runs.

And then try and put a hamburger, pizza, hot dog, burrito, or any typical Asian meal on "MyPlate." MyPlate doesn't give you the tools to work with how 99% of us eat. Mayo does.