Let's keep it real

Joyce Fassl
On almost any night of the week, you can turn the television to the latest installment of so-called "reality television"-supermodels eating pig intestines, the boy-next-door running through the Amazon jungle, or twenty-somethings vying for millionaire jobs. I can't help but wonder, whose reality is this anyway?

The same question came to mind when I read the US Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) updated dietary guidelines released earlier this year. While I applaud the effort, I have to wonder if the guidelines are or even could be reality for most Americans. The 5-a-day program suggests we consume 5-9 servings per day of fruit and vegetables. Sure it's a healthy way to eat, but I honestly don't know too many people who do it.

No wonder most consumers are hopelessly in the dark over the battle against obesity. Quite seriously, I think future HHS guidelines should include examples of things that real people eat such as a 6-oz. slice of pizza; a large order of fries; or three mint Girl Scout cookies. For example, one slice of pizza with vegetables is permitted once every two weeks. Or one 4-oz. serving of French fries per month is permitted. Wouldn't that give the public something with which they could honestly relate?

On most days, I consume two mixed green salads. A co-worker recently told me I am not getting enough nutrition from the greens and should be eating things like spinach and broccoli instead. This made me wonder where most Americans get their nutrition information and if they really understand it. Research has actually shown that some Americans think trans fat is good for them. Probably, just like me, the public gets the majority of its nutrition information from friends, family and an occasional television news report. And, if after nearly 20 years as a food editor, I'm unsure about nutrition, you can bet the average American has no clear idea what to eat-let alone how to burn it off.

According to the 2005 guidelines, "to help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements." Unless you are a Hollywood star, a member of the idle rich or addicted to exercise, do you know anyone who devotes an hour a day, six or seven days a week to exercise? When you add the hours spent working, commuting, sleeping, running errands and doing household chores, I figure I have less than 39 minutes left on most days.

Does this mean the battle over obesity is lost? Certainly not. Can't we, though, figure out a way to better relate to and motivate the public? Nutrition and exercise are the keys to good health but let's remember one fundamental element: Keep it real.

Food Engineering Editorial Advisory Board

David Watson
Vice President, Engineering
Pepperidge Farm, Inc.

Kevin Mellor
Director, Processing Center of Excellence

John Eberle
Innovation Group Manager

Dave Plinski
Director, Dairy Foods Eningeering
Land O' Lakes

Dave Gemellaro
Director, Sector Engineering
Kraft Foods

Peter Migchels
Director of Engineering, Fresh Bakeries
Maple Leaf Foods

Tom Wolters
Senior Manager Technology
Pepsico Beverages & Food

Carl Krueger
Senior Manager, Global Engineering Services
H.J. Heinz

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Joyce Fassl, Editor-in-Chief

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.