The 2010 Dietary Guidelines: What’s Changed?

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With all the dietary advice that is thrown around in magazines, newspapers, and vitamin stores, it can be helpful to have a source to summarize all the latest research. Every five years since 1980, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) come together to summarize advice on dietary habits that can support your health and possibly prevent chronic disease. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is established to review and revise the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and 2010 happens to be one of those years.

Has a lot changed since the 2005 Dietary Guidelines? Unfortunately, as the years go by more of the American public suffers from the obesity paradox; being overweight or obese yet deficient in certain nutrients. Taking this into consideration, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines more explicitly address the needs of this overweight population. Secondly, the Committee was able to utilize a new web-based information system, the Nutrition Evidence Library , helping to provide scientific evidence behind their recommendations. Finally, there are two new chapters added to the guidelines, which focus on incorporating the advice into a practical diet and ways to alleviate obstacles to a healthy lifestyle.

Diet Guidelines, Reduce:

  • Daily Calorie Intake
  • Solid Fats and Added Sugars (SoFAs) such as sugar, sweetened beverages, added butter, and candy.
  • Sodium (i.e. salt) to less than 1,500 mg per day. This used to be the amount recommended for people with or at risk for high blood pressure. Since 70% of the population now falls into that category, the 1,500 mg per day is recommended for the general population.
  • Refined Grains (e.g. white rice, white bread, cookies, pastries)
  • Meat, Poultry, Eggs
  • Saturated Fat (found largely in full-fat dairy products and meats). Lower it to less than 7% of the total calorie intake – what used to be recommended for someone with heart disease or diabetes is now recommended for everyone.

2010 Diet  Guidelines: Increase

  • Seafood. Consume 2 servings per week (4 oz = 1 serving)
  • Low-Fat (1%) or Skim Dairy
  • Shift to a Plant-Based Diet. Enjoy veggies, beans, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds as a greater proportion of your total calories.  If you have meat, treat it more as a garnish rather than the main, center-of-the-plate event.

2010 Dietary Guidelines: The Main Points: The guidelines stress living a healthy lifestyle. Living healthfully throughout your life is achievable, but your diet has to be nutrient-dense and calorie-balanced. Additionally, to make the proper healthy changes everyone needs to get involved.  All levels of society must get involved in promoting healthy eating and physical activity – from individual and families to schools to communities and policy makers. The guidelines this year focus a lot on children. Why? It’s a sobering fact that today’s children might have shorter lifespans than their parents. Preventing childhood obesity will help our nation now and for years to come.

Change Our Environment: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recognizes that if the surroundings don’t support a healthy lifestyle then it is less likely that the people in that area will be healthy. Therefore, they promote bringing back health, exercise, and cooking education in schools, and beginning the US National Physical Activity Plan to increase exercise and decrease screen time. Healthy foods should be more accessible, especially in low-income neighborhoods, and food establishments should provide healthier foods in smaller portions. In the interest of the planet, the Guidelines promote an enhancement of environmentally sustainable farming and the creation safe, sustainable aquaculture (fish farming).

Here’s to a healthier future.

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