Monday, January 31, 2011

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines

The USDA released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines today.  I know, it is 2011, but at least they got them out by the end of January!  The USDA releases the Dietary Guidelines every 5 years.  They are based on the most current scientific knowledge about diet and disease, and they are also the basis for the familiar food guide pyramid (now known as "MyPyramid").  The guidelines are meant to help the American public improve their diets, and the USDA states that this is particularly important now in this "time of rising concern about the health of the American population".   More Americans are overweight and inactive than ever before and we are seeing increases in diabetes and other diseases as a result of poor diets.  These new guidelines are finally addressing the number one nutrition problem in this country which is obesity. 

Two concepts that are key in the new guidelines are that people need to:
1)  maintain calorie balance to achieve and sustain a healthy weight
 2) focus on nutrient-dense (also known as nutrient-rich) foods and beverages. (does this sound familiar?  Those of you who read this blog often know that I love to highlight nutrient-rich foods! )

What does this mean?  It means that as a country we need to eat less, and eat foods that are better for us.  We also need to limit foods that are nutrient-poor.

The USDA has also given some tips that people can use to apply the Dietary Guidelines advice to their everyday lives:
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free (skim) or 1% milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
These are not all of the recommendations that are included in the new guidelines, but they are a great place to start!  Other recommendations are the same as they were in the 2005 guidelines: limit saturated and trans fats, reduce added sugars, make half of your grains whole, choose lowfat dairy products, eat a variety of vegetables and fruits. 

The new version of "MyPyramid" or whatever means they choose to help portray this message to the American public should be out in a few months.  Let's hope people are listening!   I will continue to highlight nutrient-rich foods on this blog, as well as giving you advice on limiting those foods that should make up only a small part of your diet and your kid's diets = "bad" fats, sodium, added sugars and refined grains!

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