“I heard that this wasn’t good for you,” or “I read in a health magazine not to eat after 8 p.m.”
Patients often come into our office with specific questions about what they should and shouldn’t eat. The Dietary Guidelines established by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) outline how people can improve their overall eating patterns.
The revisions won’t shock you – it’s much of what we already know – eat in moderation, eat a variety of foods, choose colorful options – but the newest set of Dietary Guidelines, published every five years, reflect that it’s not just an individual food item that matters, it’s the overall eating pattern we develop over time that fosters health and reduces disease risk.
That’s good news for choice and selection – making healthy food decisions doesn’t have to look the same way every day. Just as your weekly schedule flexes and changes, so will your eating patterns. It’s important to make all food choices with nutrition in mind.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020)
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- TIP: Create a sustainable food plan. Include all food groups throughout the day: lean proteins, veggies and fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. If you don’t have veggies at lunch, make sure you have them with dinner.
- 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.
- TIP: Choose foods that are closest to their natural state. A whole sweet potato will provide more nutrients than chips. Chips are processed; they don’t include the skin (fiber source) but they do include extra sodium and fat. A piece of fresh fruit will have more nutrients than fruit juice. Fresh fruit is lower in calories, has fiber and is unpasteurized giving it a much higher nutritional value.
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Consume food low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.
- TIP: Avoid canned veggies. Sodium preserves the cell walls of vegetables to prevent colorful mush. Choose fresh or frozen veggies when possible. If canned is your only option, rinse the veggies in water first.