I’m sure you’ve read the headlines: the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are the ‘federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.’
The guidelines are based on two major concepts:
- Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight,
- Focus on eating nutrient dense food and beverages;
And include 23 Key Recommendations for the general public and 6 additional Key Recommendations for special populations, such as pregnant women. A few examples include:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Several nutrition experts have criticized that the guidelines are not strong enough, that they should come right out and tell people to exclude red meat altogether, for example. But it’s never been the approach of the USDA to come out with a list of don’ts;’ the dietary guidelines have always stressed the ‘do’s.’
I respect the agency’s acknowledgement that ‘Americans can live healthier lives and contribute to a lowering of health-care costs, helping to strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity’ through an increased personal awareness and responsibility to healthy eating habits.
In other words, America, start taking responsibility for yourselves and maybe we’ll begin to see a decrease in our obesity epidemic and an increase in our economic prosperity. Health and success are related!