- The federal dietary guidelines urge flexibility in diets and discourage the intake of empty calories.
- Healthy eating can be tailored to individual tastes, cultural traditions, and varying budgets. Plant-based diets, seafood, poultry, and legumes can be good alternatives to red meat.
- For the first time, the guidelines recommend children under two should avoid foods and drinks with added sugars.
- Good nutrition impacts not just physical health, but also sleep patterns, stress levels, and energy for physical activities.
The recently unveiled federal dietary regulations recommend a healthier approach to eating throughout our lives, urging flexibility in diets and discouraging the intake of empty calories.
Released every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, these guidelines aim to foster healthier habits by improving our nutrition and mitigating chronic diseases. They not only impact federal, state, and local food and nutrition programs, but also shape how food companies develop their offerings.
Health and Diet: The Bigger Picture
“The high rates of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease could be curtailed if we improved our diets,” declared Judith Wylie-Rosett, a prominent professor in health promotion and nutritional research at New York City’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Poor dietary habits and obesity are often fueling these chronic diseases.”
Flexibility within Customisation
The guidelines emphasize that healthy eating takes many shapes and can be tailored to cultural traditions, individual tastes, and varying budgets. This doesn’t mean that you have to force down an unappealing source of protein just because you’re reducing your red meat consumption.
“Options for replacing red meat could include a plant-based diet or alternatives like seafood, poultry, and legumes,” explains Penny Kris-Etherton, a distinguished nutrition professor at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “The newly imparted focus on customization depending on culture, budget, and personal preference is a fresh take on the guideline’s past approach to healthy eating.”
Limiting Empty Calories
For the first time, the guidelines recommend that children under the age of 2 should completely avoid foods and beverages with added sugars, such as cake, ice cream, and fruit drinks.
Never Late or Never Early
The guidelines for the first time outline recommendations “by life stage, from birth through older adulthood.” Babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life whenever possible. Otherwise, they should be fed an iron-fortified infant formula.
Look at the Big Picture
“We need to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rather than focusing on specific nutrients,” emphasized Wylie-Rosett. “Our nutrient guides need to move from avoiding deficiencies to focusing on optimal health.”
To get started, there is an online tool that makes recommendations tailored to age, gender, height, weight, and activity levels.
‘Make Every Bite Count’
Nutrition for Well-being
Good nutrition nourishes not just the physical aspect of health but also influences sleep patterns, stress levels, and energy for physical activities. So, it’s time to realize that when you fill up on the right foods, you are investing in your well-being.
Original article by Tate Gunnerson.