New Dietary Guidelines Aid in Making Wise Choices
This time of year the buzz is about what’s trending in the food world. I try to share with my clients how the trends around wholesome food choices can aid them in making the best choices for a healthy lifestyle. The recommended dietary guidelines issued every five years reflect some topical food trends along with recommendations for healthy eating. They are published by the United States Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) and were issued this month. In the past the Dietary Guidelines have focused on individual components such as food groups and nutrients. The new guidelines focus on eating patterns, food and nutrient characteristics.
Though the guidelines are in-depth and detailed, in sharing with my clients I follow my “keep it simple strategy.” My KISS focus, cuts through the heavy stuff and divides it into smaller bits of information. This approach makes it easy to understand and adapt to individual lifestyles. Following is a summary of the new guidelines.
1. Follow a healthy eating plan across the lifespan. Your food and beverage choices matter. Choose an eating plan for optimal health, one that will support a healthy body weight, maintain adequate nutrients and reduce the risk of chronic disease. For example wise choices for a healthy eating pattern will include assorted fruits and vegetables, protein options such as lean meat, poultry or seafood; dairy foods, whole grains and oils. You will want to limit fats, added sugars and sodium.
2. Make sure you focus on variety, nutrient density and the amount of food. Select a variety of nutrient dense foods from several of the recommended food groups. Keep in mind however, that in making wise choices you want to stay within the recommended amounts. For example nuts are a good source of heart-healthy fats, protein and vitamins and minerals, but you have to eat them in moderation. A couple of handfuls of nuts will easily put you over the recommended limit which is a 1-ounce serving.
3. Limit calories from added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. Reduce your intake of foods and beverages that are high in these ingredients. It is important to read product labels which by law will point out the amount and percentage of sugar, saturated fat and sodium food products contain.
4. Change gears and choose healthier food and beverage options. In making the switch to nutrient-dense, healthier foods, consider cultural and personal preferences. By factoring in cultural preferences and personal likes and dislikes, the switch to healthier choices can be less challenging and a lot easier to maintain.
5. Support healthy eating patterns for all—this includes friends, family, and community. For example if you’re the Mom-in-charge of snacks at school activities, include fruit snacks such as apple slices and orange segments, peanut butter on whole wheat, or low-fat string cheese. If you have a family member focused on losing weight, plan meals and portions that will be helpful to them. For example in place of fried fish or chicken, consider an oven-fried recipe.
By making changes gradually and including these recommendations you will be moving in the right direction and ‘on-trend” for good health.
Take Away: The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines will help you develop your personal eating plan and help you make wise choices about what to eat.