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Researchers have defined five dietary patterns that are influenced by age, race, region, gender, income and education in a presentation at the American Heart Association’s 2012 scientific session. The study was based on a detailed questionnaire completed by 21,636 black and white adults age 45 and over. The five dietary patterns are as follows:

1. Alcohol—proteins, alcohol (wine, beer and mixed drinks) and salads

2. Healthy—mostly fruits, vegetables and grains

3. Southern—fried foods, processed meats and sweetened beverages

4. Sweets—large amounts of sweet snacks and desserts

5. Traditional—Chinese and Mexican food, pasta dishes, pizza, soup and other mixed dishes, including frozen and takeout meals

Growing up in Iowa in the ’50s, I was raised on a combination of the traditional and southern diets. We fried a lot of food (especially bacon, eggs and potatoes), and we thought a bologna sandwich on white bread with butter was a great lunch, especially if we had a sugared soft drink to wash the sandwich down. We occasionally ate soup and a frozen (but more likely canned) vegetable.  Today the healthy diet is most descriptive of our family’s eating pattern except that we do eat protein.

What dietary pattern describes the food you ate growing up? What dietary pattern describes your diet now?

Photo credit: Dinner Series on Flickr.

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