2010 Dietary Guidelines – Continuing to Move Forward

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Last summer I reviewed the 2010 Dietary Guideline Report that set the stage for the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 by the USDA.

While there are no major changes in recommendations, there are plenty of reinforcements to spark your commitment to healthier living.

The new twist in this update of the guidelines includes a focus on what you are encouraged to include in your healthy eating plan instead of what you should limit or avoid. However, the main points have not changed.

Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight
Americans are encouraged to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through improved eating and physical activity behaviors throughout all stages of life. Suggestions on how to accomplish this include:

Select eating patterns that focus on nutrient-dense foods and beverages
With a daily focus on nutrient wise choices, Americans can easily meet all recommended nutrients identified for health while limiting nutrients that have been found to limit health and wellness. Several encouraged eating plans include DASH, Mediterranean, or Vegetarian styles of meal selection. These along with basic healthy eating guidelines can help you meet these key nutrient goals :
  • Sodium – Reducing sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg for individuals aged 2-50 is recommended. Fifteen hundred milligrams or less is recommended for those older than 51 or those who are African American or who have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
  • Saturated fat – Continue to aim for less than 10 percent of total daily fat intake in favor of other options with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Also keep trans fat intake as low as possible.
  • Cholesterol – Continue to aim for 300 mg per day or less.
  • Fiber – Continue to include 14 grams per 1,000 calories.
  • Potassium – Include at least 4,700 mg per day to assist with blood pressure control.
Special Considerations
There are some additional recommendations for specific populations. Women of childbearing age are encouraged to select foods that are high in heme iron as well as the vitamin C rich foods that help absorb them. They should also consume no less than 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid in addition to a folate rich diet. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are encouraged to include 8 to 12 ounces of low mercury fish for the beneficial brain boosting DHA. For seasoned individuals over the age of 50, should be sure to include foods rich in vitamin B12 such as eggs, low fat dairy and lean meat.

Call to Action
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines also includes a specific call to action to develop "coordinated partnerships, programs, and policies to support healthy eating and active living." The action implementation will likely come from three guiding principles:
  • Ensure all Americans have access to nutritious foods and opportunities for physical activity.
  • Facilitate individual behavior change through environmental strategies.
  • Set the stage for lifelong healthy eating, physical activity, and weight management behaviors.
The Bottom Line
When we make nutrient-rich food and snack choices and balance them with a physically active lifestyle, we can maintain a healthy weight and reduce our risk of disease in favor of improved overall health. This is the basic goal of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. These goals are for all Americans ages 2 years and older. These summarized goals are the basis of most legitimate weight-loss plans and contradict many highly marketed fad diets. Over the next few months I will try to highlight different aspects of the guidelines to help you make 2010 the year that you give up fad diets forever in favor of healthy eating principles outlined by the Guidelines and lived by many Americans across the nation.

Are you living the Guidelines for Americans? What part of these guidelines is causing you to struggle? What aspect of them would you like us to address further?