Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Feel better today. Stay healthy for tomorrow.
The food and physical activity choices you make today and every day affect your health today, tomorrow, and in the future. Eating right and being physically active are not just a program or a “diet”, they are the keys to a healthy lifestyle. Developing healthy habits helps reduce the risk of many chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and increases chances of living a longer life.
Make smart choices from every food group.
The best way to get balanced nutrition for your body is to eat a variety of nutrient-packed foods every day. Contact the RPS dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions concerning your individual calorie needs.
A good meal plan:
- Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Tips for making smart choices when eating out or on the go:
- At the store, plan ahead and buy a variety of nutrient-rich foods for the rest of the week.
- When grabbing lunch, have a sandwich on whole grain bread and choose low-fat/fat-free milk, water or other drinks without added sugars.
- When eating out, choose items that are steamed, grilled, or broiled instead of sautéed or fried.
- On a long commute or on a trip, pack fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, string cheese and nuts to help you avoid impulsive, less healthy snack choices
Mix up your choices within each food group.
- Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits rather than fruit juice. For a 2,000 calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day. (Example: 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and ½ cup canned fruit.)
- Vary your veggies. Eat more dark green and orange veggies like broccoli, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. Eat more beans and peas like pinto, kidney and garbanzo.
- Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free dairy every day. If you can’t consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products, soy or rice milk, or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
- Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, rice or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, I cup of breakfast cereal or ½ cooked rice or pasta. Look on the label to see if the grains are called “whole” in the ingredient list.
- Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. Vary your protein choices-with more fish, beans, nuts and seeds.
Find your balance between food and physical activity.
Exercise goes hand in hand with eating healthy. Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness. It also helps you control body weight by balancing the calories you take in as food with the calories you expend each day.
- Be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Increasing the intensity or amount of time that you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to control body weight. About 60 minutes a day may be needed to prevent weight gain.
If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you’ll gain about 1 pound in a month. That’s about 10 pounds in a year.
Get the most nutrition out of your calories.
There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you’re trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight. To find out your personal calorie level, contact the RPS dietitian at email@example.com.
You could use up the entire amount of allotted calories on a few high-calorie items like candy bars and fast food, but chances are, you’ll be hungry again later and you won’t get the full range of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to keep going and be healthy.
Choose the most nutritionally packed foods you can from each food group every day - those packed with vitamins, minerals and fibers - but lower in calories. Pick foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products more often.
For more information on the Food Guide Pyramid, visit the following website: www.mypyramid.gov
Most packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts Label. For a healthier you, use this tool to make smart food choices quickly and easily. Try these tips:
- Keep these low: saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium.
- Get enough of these: potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
- Use the % Daily Value column when possible: 5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high.
Check servings and calories. Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually consuming. Especially on convenience items, where the serving size listed on the bag may not be what you consider a serving.
Make your calories count. Look at the calories on the label and compare them with what nutrients you are also getting to decide whether the food is worth eating. When one serving of a single food item has over 400 calories per serving, it is high in calories.
Don’t sugarcoat it. Since sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Some names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.
Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease (5% DV is low, 20% DV or more is high). Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Keep total fat intake between 20-35% of calories.
Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 mg of sodium (around 1 tsp salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. However, most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker. Also, look for foods high in potassium, which counteracts some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
…use the label.