The U.S. Dietary Guidelines are designed to help Americans improve their diet and adopt a healthier eating pattern. They are reviewed and revised every five years to include the most recent, updated nutrition information. The 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines offers five overarching general messages with detailed specific key recommendations in each area.
The key recommendations are:
Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce risk for chronic disease.
In order to follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan we must teach children early what healthy eating looks like. That will empower every individual throughout their lifespan with the ability to make choices that will help maintain a healthy weight, obtain the nutrients our bodies need and minimize our susceptibility to chronic disease.
Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
Focusing on variety means we must expand our food choices, be willing to try new foods, and experiment with new recipes. Nutrient density means that a food is relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained. In other words, you can eat a snicker bar and get 250 calories, a whopping 27 grams of sugar, and no significant vitamins or minerals. For the same 250 calories you can eat 4 ounces of chicken breast, ½ cup brown rice and one cup of broccoli and get a plethora of vitamins and minerals. And finally, this key recommendations reminds us to focus on amount. In a future blog entry I will share tips on portion control.
Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
We all know where added sugars come from. Replace high sugar options such as candy, baked goods, soda, and ice cream with lower sugar options like yogurt and fresh fruit. Lower saturated fats by choosing low-fat dairy products, fish and chicken more often than beef, and healthy oils for cooking. Most Americans get 2-3 times the recommended daily allowance of sodium. Reduce sodium by using fewer canned foods, packaged instant rice and pasta dishes, and frozen convenience foods.
Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.
While shifting to healthier food choices consider your family’s traditions and your personal preferences. Learn to make alterations to recipes so that your favorite dishes can still be enjoyed while you’re learning to adopt your healthier lifestyle.
Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.
This key recommendation reminds us that we all are responsible for creating an environment that enables healthy eating patterns. At home stock the pantry and fridge with nutritious foods from which to create snacks and meals. In your work environment refrain from the temptation to keep candy on your desk. Instead keep a bowl of fruit, some unsalted nuts, or unbuttered popcorn. Encourage your children by packing a healthy lunch box with fun and interesting foods. Be watching Reams Cooking School schedule for our class entitled “Lunchbox Survival” that will be filled with ideas on how to pack a nutritious lunch that your child will enjoy.
About the author
Nancy Hintze, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, began her career as a Foods and Nutrition teacher in Lehi, Utah in 2003. At the time she began teaching middle school students about nutrition, she weighed 286 pounds. She quickly became aware that if she expected her students to believe her, she had to be an example of what she taught. Over the course of the next several years, as she eliminated 125 pounds by changing what she ate and how she cooked, Nancy became passionate about sharing her healthy lifestyle keys with her students and their families. Along the journey of her transformation, she also became an avid chef with a zest for good old fashioned food preparation with a modern twist – healthy ingredients and ease of preparation.
Nancy is a licensed Family and Consumer Sciences teacher as well as a certified L.E.A.N Health Coach. She has developed and produced Community Nutrition Fairs, mentored students in the Fuel Up to Play program and accompanied one of her students to represent Utah in the National Fuel Up to Play summit in Washington, D. C. In addition, she has coached individual clients to achieve greater levels of personal wellness. And now we have the privilege of announcing Nancy as our very own Culinary Nutritionist here at Reams.
When she’s not sharing her passion for great eating with others, you can find her in her vegetable garden, or knitting or sewing, reading a great novel, hanging out with one of her 21 grandchildren or on the road in the RV that she and her husband love to travel in.