The government has issued new dietary guidelines (here is the scoop, made as inconvenient to read as possible: ). They are what those of us who keep up with this stuff already know: exercise at least 30 minutes a day, eat no trans fat, little saturated fat, few simple carbohydrates, and plenty of whole plant foods. You’re already doing that, right?

Well, apparently not. Fewer than half of Americans exercise at all, and 40% of us eat no whole grains. The government guidelines actually say that “at least half” of the grains we eat should be whole grains (I don’t get that — I thought we were all agreed that refined grains are nutritional bad guys), and commenters on these new guidelines are mostly saying that this is the hardest change we are being asked to make. Nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables is another change from the old food pyramid, and exercise is a new addition.

#2 daughter said, when I first read that a new food pyramid was in the works, that the old one didn’t work because it was just a piece of paper, not equipped with electrodes. The new one is expected not to work either, because it is just too hard. I kind of like it, because it says in the fine print that I can have 11 grams of saturated fat and 20 grams of sugar a day, whereas my doctor was saying to “avoid” those things, which sounds a lot like not being able to have any. In fact, my first thought was “I can definitely find a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate small enough to fit those numbers.” Unfortunately, if you start reading labels on your groceries, you discover that a slice of Orowheat bread has 4 grams of sugar, a serving of tomato sauce has 10… Sigh. I plan to look for foods with very few grams of sugar, though, in hopes of squeezing some chocolate in somewhere. Loopholes, that’s what I want!

We had dinner last night with Son-in-Law’s charming family. With two medical professionals at the table, it was inevitable that we would discuss these recommendations. Soft rolls, butter, homemade chiffon cake with berries and whipped cream — these are the things we ate as we discussed it. Son-in-Law’s aunt, who is head of cardiac care at a local hospital, said serenely that moderation was the key, and genetics played such a large part that we could all relax. She also said I should hold out against the medication my doctor has been urging on me. Sounds good to me.

We also discussed knitting, as it happens. Son-in-Law’s grandmother had made a lovely afghan for them for Christmas. Then his mother showed us a scarf she had made. So, since I was wearing the dull socks, I showed them to her. Sure, it would have been better had I been wearing, say, the handspun scarf or Siv, but the dull socks were what I happened to have on.

It was fun, in any case. #1 daughter and Son-in-Law head back to the frozen north today. It was wonderful to have them around for a while.