The U.S. government ushered in the new year with a brand-new set of food and exercise suggestions for the American public. The guidelines form the basis of recommendations the government uses to develop future programs and policies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to incorporate key recommendations from the guidelines when it updates the current Food Guide Pyramid later this year.
Although the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are similar to those issued in 2000, there is a new emphasis on choosing nutrient-dense foods from each food group, as well as more focus on the value of exercise. A basic premise of the new guidelines is that nutrient needs should be met primarily by consuming whole foods. Americans are urged to eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, while limiting their intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt
and alcohol. The report cites two eating patterns, the USDA Food Guide and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, as being good examples of a balanced diet that is consistent with the updated guidelines.
The 2005 guidelines are also clear that controlling calories—not carbs— is the key to controlling weight. Recognizing the value of physical activity in maintaining weight, the report offers new specifics on how long to exercise each day. To reduce the risk of chronic disease, people should engage in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise; to maintain or lose weight, they need approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity. To sustain weight loss, adults should participate in 60–90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily.
Here are some key recommendations from the new guidelines to share with your clients:
- With a dietary intake of 2,000 calories daily, eat 2 cups of fruit and 21/2 cups of vegetables each day (more if calorie needs are higher).
- Choose a variety of fruits and veggies, especially those that are most colorful (dark green or orange, for example).
- Consume 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk (or other dairy products) each day.
- Eat 3 or more ounces of whole grains each day.
- Opt for more low-fat protein sources, such as fish, instead of red meat.
- Limit daily intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt and alcohol.
- Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended; to prevent gradual weight gain, make small decreases in daily calorie intake while upping exercise times.