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Angie Needels / Director / 510-325-4785



Berkeley, CA


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Nourishment and Support for Growing Families

My 2015 Dietary Guidelines Comments

Angie Needels

Is this Our Future? 

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A few weeks back I sent out a "Call to Action" so you too would have a say in what's published for this year's updated USDA Dietary Guidelines. These recommendations affect folks far and wide, especially our children's school lunch programs. Kids need us to stand up for what's right for them and make decisions that will allow them to live happy, healthy and vibrant lives. 

Check out the new documentary FED UP (available on Netflix) to see a closer look as to why recommendations like the Dietary Guidelines and Food Pyramid are just not working currently.

And... Here are my comments and personal story...

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My name is Angie Needels and I appreciate you taking my comments into consideration as you edit and publish this years new Dietary Guidelines.

In the mid-90's I was a teenager and was starting to understand what it meant to have my own identity. Quickly I felt a sense of shame in the shape of my body, given the pervasive advertisements on TV, in magazines, on billboards and the like. I was not 5'10", tall and thin, but however a normal 5'2" girl. This shame drove me to seek out how I might improve how my body looked, thinking there was a way to obtain that myth. I actually did it with the great intention of taking charge of my health, while wanting to look and feel better in the process. 

The tool that I turned to was the USDA Dietary Guidelines. I had learned about them in health class and I thought then, "Who better to look up to for advice than the government? they have loads of science and research backing their recommendations and they have ALL American citizens' individual interests (and health) in mind when creating them, yes? Of course they want me to thrive and be healthy. This is GREAT!"

I jumped on board immediately and followed the Dietary Guidelines thoroughly, increasing my carbohydrates intake and reducing fats, dairy and meats. Exercising regularly with cardio workouts and strength training. I counted servings and calories, took notes and journaled my progress every step of the way. 

Quickly I became frustrated and saddened by the lack of change in the ways I had hoped. Instead of feeling better in my mind and emotions, instead of looking better in the mirror, the opposite things were happening. My body actually increased in weight and how it was distributed on my body, and because of that I became more depressed. The depression fed into the drive to take out more calories and continue increasing my time exercising.


Before I knew it, I had spiraled into a full-blown eating disorder and didn't even see it coming. After a year and a half I had reduced my daily eating intake to 10 fat-free saltine crackers and an apple a day. I ran 5 miles each morning before school and went to the gym for 3 hours afterward. There was nothing left to burn off, but I didn't know what else I could do differently. If I did eat anything I would force myself to vomit it out or I would drink laxatives so it wouldn't be absorbed. My digestive system was thrashed because of this. My menstrual cycle went "bye bye" for over a year. My hair started falling out and my skin and nails were peeling off in layers. I weighed maybe all of 90 pounds. I felt like I was going to die. And the saddest part of it all... is that I really wanted to. 

After dragging myself from the depths of this depressive cycle, eating foods (processed foods mainly), gaining 50 pounds in a matter of months, not being able to fit into any of my clothes... I was still depressed, but at least was eating. 

I moved to the SF Bay Area to find a plethora of fresh ingredients. I had loved cooking, but cooking meant putting several other processed ingredients together to make a dish that was chock-full of processed foods.

I decided to go to a culinary school so I'd know how to work with these foods. I found a school that offered nutritional components in their cooking. FINALLY... "Aha" moments and results. 

Now, in my practice as a Therapeutic Chef and Nutrition Educator, I’ve had the opportunity to witness healing and optimal health first hand.

I create meals with love. I care about the quality, and I care about the farmers who grow the ingredients I use. Everything made from scratch and bringing back the love in eating.

The meals I create have these elements at their core and have proven successful in promoting optimal health. They:

  1. are easeful in digestion
  2. minimize inflammatory response
  3. maximize healing
  4. are prepared in a way that promotes maximum nutrient assimilation
  5. promote homeostasis throughout the blood, bodily fluids and tissues
  6. improve hormone and neurotransmitter functionality - allowing us to feel happier, deal with stress better and have better sleep cycles
  7. improve overall cell functioning; including detoxification, permeability, replication and apoptosis
  8. show people that by eliminating foods that aren't good for us, we still have plenty of super delicious options available

Here’s what my daily intake Food Pyramid might look like:

  • 6-7 servings of a mixture of colorful vegetables - both raw and cooked
  • 1-3 servings of starchy vegetables
  • 8-12 tablespoons of good healthy fats from both vegetables and animals (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, flax oil, avocado, lard, schmaltz etc.)
  • 1-3 servings of pastured or wild caught animal foods - eggs, red meat, pork, poultry, seafood - always with their natural fats
  • 1-3 servings of fermented foods
  • 1-2 servings of bone broths
  • 0-2 servings of nuts and seeds
  • 0-3 servings of fresh or dried fruits
  • 1-2 servings of nutrient dense teas and beverages
  • rarely eating grains or legumes - if so, soaking overnight to aid in digestion and never glutenous
  • rarely eating dairy and cheeses - if so, raw and with whole fat

All foods would be:

  • whole and from nature - not processed
  • in season and at their ripest
  • grown organically with no pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones or antibiotics
  • NEVER genetically modified
  • animals would be in their optimal environment and would have as much access to pasture as desired
  • only using sweeteners that are found in nature like honey, dates or maple syrup

I'm ecstatic to eat. I love my body and my life.

My wildest dreams have come true!

At 35 I had an extremely healthy pregnancy and gave birth at home without interventions. My daughter is incredibly healthy, happy, sleeps well, and loves eating a wide variety of foods as well. I feel so blessed.

I beg of you, make all Americans’ wildest dreams come true. Please!

You wield a great power and can make a huge impact. 

Angie /