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The New American Diet: Can We Do It?

The government's new diet guidelines may be hard to swallow.

Is a Hamburger and Fries So Bad?

"If you get half of your food intake from vegetables and fruits and whole grains, the other half wouldn't be that bad for you unless you were eating suet," Bittman says. "Even if you get 600 calories from a Big Mac and 450 calories from a medium order of fries, if the rest of your day's diet were broccoli and apples and bulgur, you wouldn't be that bad off."

Look on the positive side, Bittman says. It is satisfying to eat beautiful vegetables. It is satisfying to eat rich whole grains.

"Use a strategy of seeing the big picture. Say, 'I am going to try to eat two cups each of vegetables and fruit every day, and a cup or two of whole grains every day,'" he advises. "I know that is going to leave me hungry. But at least I have eaten the stuff that has the fiber, that has the lack of fat, that has the omega-3 fatty acids. And then I am going to go ahead and put my olive oil on it and eat my meat and fish. I can eat smaller quantities. I just don't have the willpower to go in any other direction."

Bittman remembers the old days, when he and three friends would devour a four-pound pot roast. Last weekend, he cooked a 2 1/2 pound chuck roast for a five-person Super Bowl party -- and there were leftovers.

"That never used to happen -- everybody took just a small piece of meat," he says. "We wound up eating five or six ounces. That is probably more than it should be, but I felt very restrained. It was a pack-of-cards-sized piece of meat. Now if I have to feel guilty about that -- well, I don't know that I can go there."

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Reviewed on February 08, 2005

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