Healthy Eating Guidelines
The newly revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize that we have eating patterns, which include all foods and beverages we consume. Within a healthy eating pattern, all foods we eat fit together like a puzzle to meet nutritional needs. There are many ways to achieve a healthy eating pattern and our cultural and personal preferences can be met. The guidelines, released in 2015, highlight five recommendations.
- Follow a healthy eating pattern throughout your life. All food and beverage choices matter.
Calorie needs will vary depending on your age and activity level. Choose a eating pattern that supports a healthy body weight, provides adequate nutrition, and reduces your risk of chronic disease. In addition to a traditional eating pattern, healthy Mediterranean style and healthy vegetarian eating patterns are highlighted.
- Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.
To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. Nutrient dense foods have a lot of nutrients and relatively few calories.
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
Key recommendations are to get less than 10% of daily calories from added sugars; less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fats; and consume less than 2,300 mg per day of sodium.
- 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. (Choose an orange instead orange juice, etc.) Current eating patterns of most Americans do not align with the guidelines. Specifically, our diets are low in vegetables, fruits, dairy and oil; we need to choose whole grains more often and make better protein choices; and we exceed recommended amounts of added sugars, saturated fat and sodium. We have many opportunities to make better choices.
- Support healthy eating patterns for all.
We all play a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in many settings including schools, communities, workplaces, and especially our own homes. This shift to more healthful eating patterns is needed and you can play a role.