The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a publication of health oriented recommendations that are written every five years, first debuting in 1980. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) are responsible for producing these guidelines. The objective to these guidelines is to provide “authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.” These guidelines emphasize that eating right and being physically active shouldn’t be viewed as a diet or weight loss program, rather as essential tools to a healthy lifestyle. These guidelines provide broad “key” recommendations and specific ones for certain age groups/populations.
Some of the “key” recommendations/guidelines include:
- Weight Management: “To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from food and beverages with calories expended.”
- Adequate Nutrients within Calories needed: “Consume a variety of nutrient dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.”
- Physical Activity: “Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well being, and a healthy body weight.”
- Food groups to encourage: “Choose a variety of fruits and veggies each day. In particular, pick from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, legumes, orange, starchy veggies, and other vegetables) several times a week.”
- Fats: “Keep total fat consumption between 20-35% of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, i.e. fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.”
- Carbohydrates: “Choose fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and whole grains often.”
The Guidelines continue for a while and I just mentioned a very small portion of it. Following these guidelines would set you in the right direction for losing weight and being healthy. I encourage you to visit the website and look at all the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and start to incorporate them into your life. Don’t get overwhelmed reading all of these, and possibly seeing many of their recommendations that you may not be doing…baby-steps! Slowly incorporate these guidelines and keep adding new ones once you have mastered others.
Keep in mind that these guidelines are updated every five years. New guidelines will be published in 2010.