Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The foods and beverages you consume have a significant impact on your health. Diet-related chronic diseases – such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer – are prevalent among Americans and pose a major public health problem. In fact, 60% of adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases.
Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture publish nutrition advice. The newest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) offers science-based nutrition advice to develop healthy eating habits and reduce chronic disease risk. For the first time, this edition provides recommendations by life stage, from birth through older adulthood.
2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines
The latest guidance provides four overarching guidelines that encourage healthy eating habits while recognizing that individuals will need to shift their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthy pattern.
Make every bite count and consider the following four comprehensive guidelines:
- Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. Nutritional needs and recommendations vary based on age, sex, and stage of life. Review the guidelines to ensure that you and your loved ones – whether they’re infants, teens, adults, or older adults – follow a healthy diet.
- Customize your foods and beverages to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgets. A healthy dietary pattern can benefit everyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or current health status.
- Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages while staying within calorie limits. Keep in mind that 85% of your daily calories should meet food group recommendations for vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins and minerals without too many added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium
- Limit foods and beverages high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Be mindful of the nutritional facts of the foods and drinks you consume, including alcohol. For example, men should limit alcohol to two drinks a day, and women should consume no more than one drink per day.
Everyone can benefit from a healthy eating pattern, so start with modest changes daily. For healthy recipes or to learn more about the current guidelines, visit MyPlate.gov.
The Importance of Good Nutrition
Nutrition is the relationship between food and your body and plays a critical role in your health and development. Food provides vital nutrients to your body to help it function. Good nutrition leads to a stronger immune system, improved concentration and attention span, longer lifespan, and reduced risk of chronic conditions.
Healthy Eating 101
Eating a well-balanced diet is key to maintaining your health. Below are tips to help you on your healthy eating journey:
- Get a personalized eating plan: Speak with your doctor to develop a plan that outlines the daily amounts of each food group you need. You may be referred to a registered dietician or nutritionist.
- Set realistic goals: You are more likely to succeed in reaching realistic goals when you make changes gradually. Start with small changes first.
- Balance your diet with a variety of foods: Fifty percent of your plate should be fruits and vegetables, 25% lean meat, poultry, or fish, and 25% with grains.
- Eat slowly: It can take 15-20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain receives the message, you may stop feeling hungry.
- Practice portion control: A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. Talk with your doctor to learn more about proper portion sizes and daily food intake customized to you.
Coping With Change
There are many ways that change can come in a new year. You may experience changes in your family, with a job, or just a simple change of season. Change is everywhere around us and can be inevitable. However, there are healthy ways to cope with alterations in life and become the best version of yourself.
- Think through the issue. Become fully aware of your feelings. If the change may benefit you or will not cause harm, consider dropping your barrier and accept that change is occurring. This kind of reaction will lower your stress significantly.
- Develop a support system. A strong relationship with your friends, family or coworkers may help you to cope with change better.
- Take care of yourself. Eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, relaxing, and enjoying your hobbies can help keep your mind off change and keep your body healthy too. A healthy mind and body can greatly help your stress levels.
- Take control of actions you make for yourself. Think about the positive and negative outcomes of your choices. Remind yourself that it is not what occurs that will make you unhappy; it is how you react to that outcome.
Change can be overwhelming, but you can control how you respond to change to adjust more easily. When change is on the horizon, acknowledge your reaction and determine what you will do to strategize. If you have experienced a significant adjustment and are having trouble coping, contact your HR representative to explore additional ways to make managing change easier