Do You Know What You’re Supposed to Eat?

February 1, 2011

Yesterday, the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines were released.  (Yes, we’re in 2011, but the guidelines were a little late).  These Guidelines are updated every five years and are supposed to be the foundation of our diets. Unfortunately, many American’s aren’t following the Guidelines, which is evident by the following statistics:

  • 72% of women and 64% of men are classified as overweight or obese
  • 1 in 3 children is overweight

The new Guidelines are not as different from the 2005 Guidelines as nutrition professionals were expecting, but there were some good changes that will hopefully help people implement the Guidelines in an easier way. Here are some of the key takeaways from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines:

  • Fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables
  • Make half of your grains whole grains by replacing refined grains with whole grains (like barley, oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc)
  • Increase intake of fat-free or 1% reduced fat dairy — milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Increase the amount and variety of seafood you eat — choose seafood in place of meat and poultry
    • 8 ounces of seafood per week is recommended (that’s 2 servings)
  • Increase plant sources of protein, including beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds
  • Increase physical activity — aim for 30 minutes a day
  • Limit sodium intake to 2300 mg/day or 1500 mg/day if you are over 51 or African American (of any age) or have high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease (50% of the US population falls in the category needing to limit sodium to  1500 mg/day)
    • Read sodium content on nutrition facts panels
    • Read the ingredients for sources of sodium
    • Don’t trust your taste buds — just because something tastes salty doesn’t mean it’s high in sodium. Many foods have salt baked in so it doesn’t taste salty.
  • Reduce intake of calories from solid fats (saturated and trans fats) and added sugars
    • Limit baked goods, butter, stick margarine, shortening, partially hydrogenated oils, bacon, hot dogs, ribs
    • Read the nutrition facts labels — look at amount of saturated and trans fats
    • Read the ingredients for sources of solid fats and added sugar (you can’t rely on the sugar amount on a label because many foods have sugar naturally)

Remember the bottom line: Balance the calories you take in from any and all food sources with the calories you are expending through physical activity. No food is off limits — it’s about enjoying what you like in moderation.

Want to know more about the guidelines? Check out my appearance on WNBC NY Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough!

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