Health-conscious eaters (and we all should be) can catch a glimpse of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans through a recently released report. Utilizing the latest findings in nutrition science, these Guidelines provide direction for individuals as well as healthcare providers and federal nutrition programs.
Although probably not anticipated with the same excitement as the World Cup winner or next Harry Potter movie, here’s a peek about what the Guidelines suggest to eat.
- Focus on a plant-based diet. Infuse each meal with a variety of veggies, beans and peas, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Increase your intake of seafood. Sounds like omega-3 fats continue their popularity. Think salmon, tuna, Pollock, and flounder.
- Enjoy fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Consider fortified cheeses and plain yogurt with fresh fruit.
- Consume moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry, and eggs.
As for what to avoid, sugary foods and those high in solid fats, sodium, and preservatives still top the list.
To Take It or Not
Vitamins and supplements are popped daily, often by the most health-conscious individuals in an effort to “do more.” The Guidelines state they are not necessary for healthy individuals. However, those with known deficiencies, or health conditions that may put them at risk for deficiency, should consider them.
Pregnant women require supplements, for the obvious reasons. As for deficiencies, it seems we’d all be wise to add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat fortified milk to our diet. Most Americans lack the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and dietary fiber—all of which can be found in those foods.
Team Work toward Healthier Eating
In an effort to help Americans follow these Guidelines, the upcoming report calls for improving nutrition knowledge and cooking skills. Check out our latest nutrition seminars for an opportunity to expand your food and culinary smarts. Schools are called to action to increase their nutrition and physical education programs. Not an easy task to accomplish with the current economical situation, but a necessary one.
Reinforce healthy eating habits at home by taking time for a nutritious meal and offering healthy snacks. Offer the sweet crunch of carrot sticks instead of cookies. With ready-to-eat packages, veggie and fruit options are just as quick and easy. (Always wash produce again, even if package states “triple washed.”) Small gestures like this make a good statement and build a stronger body and mind.
The nation as a whole is called upon to make healthy foods more available, which includes providing financial perks for consumers. The food industry is urged to offer healthy choices that are low in sodium, added sugars, refined grains, and solid fats. They are encouraged to shift to smaller portions. Farmers are advised to go greener. Sounds like a given. However, production increasingly relies on imported finite resources. These are either consumed directly, for example, as fuel to operate a tractor, or indirectly as synthetic products, such as nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides. Farmers are encouraged to expand environmentally sustainable food crops.
One Bite at a Time
As with all changes, pace yourself and proceed with determination. Avoid an entire overhaul of your eating habits. Remember, you always want what you can’t have in life. That includes fudge sundaes and meat-lovers pizza. By occasionally indulging in such favorites, you don’t feel deprived and discouraged. Take small steps toward better eating, improving one area at a time. Keep portions small and simple. Don’t bite off more than you should chew.
Let’s hope this widespread call to healthy eating is infectious. Perhaps a positive contagion can replace the H1N1 flu fear that lingered in our brains not long ago. Imagine the benefits gained by “catching” the health-food bug.
For more information about the Center’s nutrition programs, please visit our Web site. Click on Nutrition in the pull-down menu under the Services tab.
“Dietary Guidelines—More Changes Ahead,” Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky at www.mayoclinic.com.
“Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm.
“Updated Dietary Guidelines in the Works,” Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky at www.mayoclinic.com.
introduction photo (food pyramid): www.bing.com/images
vitamins and supplements: www.flickr.com/photos/neeta_lind/4622133058