What’s the Beef on Bacon?

Bacon, usually in the news for its popularity among foodies, recently received a major thumbs down from the World Health Organization. An international panel of experts convened by the WHO concluded in late October that eating processed meat like hot dogs, ham and bacon raises the risk of colon cancer and consuming other red meats “probably” raises the risk as well.

Sorry, Atkins Diet fans. Looks like excessive consumption of meat is not where it’s at.

For dietitians, though, we’re not alarmed. We’ve long recommended reducing meat consumption, which certainly includes the kinds that are salted, cured or smoked to enhance flavor and improve preservation.

And while I wouldn’t recommend completely eliminating a favorite food completely (my own family loves most processed meats), based on new health research, I will take this as an opportunity to suggest ways to reduce meat consumption. Most of us in America eat more meat than is good for us or for our planet. So try these tips out for size.

1. Meatless Monday. This is pretty self explanatory, and it doesn’t have to even be a Monday. For families that eat meat every night, start to rethink dinner at least one night a week.

2. Use meat as a flavoring. A little bit of meat can go a long way to flavor a stir fry, soup, lasagna or tacos.

3. Fill up on vegetables. Make sure you serve appetizing vegetable dishes, and then you’re less likely to stuff yourself with steak.

4. Serve from the kitchen. When you do serve meat, there’s no need to put a huge platter of it on the table. Reduce dirty platters, while helping control portions at the same time.