Today, about half of all American adults have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity.
The new Dietary Guidelines have recently been released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture. The guidelines are updated every 5 years to reflect the most recent recommendations on how we should eat.
While the recommendations included in the guidelines are ultimately intended to help individuals improve and maintain overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, the focus is on disease prevention, not treatment.
The components of eating patterns can have interactive and potentially cumulative effects on health. They can be tailored to an individual’s personal preferences, enabling people to choose the diet that is right for them.
The Guidelines follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Previous editions focused primarily on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients.
Here are some of the recommendations to meet nutrient needs within calorie limits:
- Choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
- 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.
- 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.
Healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan. The Dietary Guidelines are designed for all individuals’ ages 2 years and older and encourage families to consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet.
All food and beverage choices matter when developing your healthy eating pattern. Choose an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Pay particular attention to variety, nutrient density, and amount.
Key Recommendations for your eating pattern:
Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level: All forms of foods, including fresh, canned, dried, and frozen foods, can be included in healthy eating patterns.
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other Fruits, especially whole fruits Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products oils
Key things to limit for your eating pattern:
Saturated fats and Trans fats, added sugars, and sodium, specifically:
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
- Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
- If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
Key things to consider about beverages:
- When choosing beverages, both the calories and nutrients they may provide are important considerations.
- Beverages that are calorie-free, especially water, or that contribute beneficial nutrients, such as fat-free and low-fat milk and 100% juice, should be the primary beverages consumed.
- Milk and 100% fruit juice should be consumed within recommended food group amounts and calorie limits.
- Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit drinks that are less than 100% juice, can contribute excess calories while providing few or no key nutrients.
Americans of all ages—children, adolescents, adults, and older adults—should also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings in our community. This includes home, school or work and these guidelines can help you develop eating patterns that promote overall health and prevent chronic disease.
To read more about the 2015 guidelines, please visit health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.
Hope Williams, RD, CD, CDE, CLS, is a Health & Wellness Specialist with Ministry Medical Group