Understanding the Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020
Some of you may have heard in the news that the government recently published brand new Dietary Guidelines for Americans in January. Like most people, you have probably glossed over it, but I am going to tell you why you should be really excited by this! – Because we are another step closer to accepting that nutrition is the number one tool we have in disease prevention – We have taken a huge step toward establishing preventative treatment in our health system and not just reactionary treatment for a disease which may have been avoided. These guidelines serve as the basis for government programs, such as the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs – they set the standard for what food and drink can be served in order to meet required nutrients. This means kids will get more fruits and veggies and less sodium and sugar – over 30 million kids are enrolled in these programs – 30 million! Now these kids are going to have even better meals to fuel their growing bodies and brains.
The guidelines themselves take on more of a Mediterranean Diet vibe – getting away from processed foods, added sugars, and adding in whole fruits and veggies.
In a nutshell, the recommendations say:
- Eat a variety of vegetables from all subgroups (dark green, red and orange, beans, etc.)
- Eat a variety of whole fruits (stop calling fruit juice a fruit – it is juice – full of sugar and zero fiber – eat an actual apple or orange)
- Make half of your grains whole (choose wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley)
- Choose fat free or low fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified soy milk)
- Eat a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds (sorry Atkins and South Beach diets – more red meat is not good – Meatless Monday win!)
- Add oils (and I don’t mean coconut; reach for olive oil, canola oil, avocado, whole nuts, flax seed, salmon - believe it or not, fat is not the enemy, that is so 1980’s)
- Limit saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. Aim for:
o Less than 10% of calories per day from added sugar – this is about 50g daily – watch what you are drinking, one can of coke has 39g of sugar!
o Less than 10% of calories per day of saturated fats (found in high fat beef, pork, cream, butter, cheese, etc.)
o Less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium (aim for around 500 mg per meal – watch out for processed foods that can pack a punch!)
- Consume alcohol in moderation (up to one drink a day per women, and 2 drinks a day per men)
- Exercise: adults should have at least 30 minutes 5 times per week of moderate activity, and 2 or more days of strength training per week. Youth (6-17 years old) require at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Bottom line - Just get moving!
Overwhelmed? Maybe you read this and thought, man, I do none of this! That's OK, do not be discouraged! Pick 1 thing, yes ONE – Ignore the rest – Start implementing this one change into your daily life. Good change happens slowly. Some ideas – add one vegetable to lunch and dinner, eat 2 pieces of fruit per day, reduce juice and soda consumption and choose water. Once you get this down, come back to the list and pick another item to work on. Keep doing this, and before you know it this will become second nature, and will be a piece of cake!
Spread the word……NOT the icing
(well sometimes it’s OK to spread icing, but do it in moderation)