Health & Nutrition

The US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services have released updated Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025! 

The biggest change in the updated guidelines is a new emphasis on healthy eating patterns.  While the previous guidelines still are very helpful, the authors of the new guidelines stress that patterns of healthy and nutritious consumption and exercise must extend over a lifetime.  

Guideline 1: Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Guideline 2:  Vary food and beverage choices so that they coincide with your personal preferences, cultural traditions, and available budget. 

Guideline 3: Use nutrient-dense foods and beverages from all food groups.  Eat at an appropriate calorie level so that you can sustain energy levels and keep body processes functioning. 

Guideline 4: Limit your intake of added sugars, saturated fat, and alcoholic beverages to only about 15% of your daily calories. The remaining 85% of your calories should come from healthful, nutrient-dense foods and beverages 

Guideline 5: Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

What is a "healthy eating pattern"?

The USDPHP describes a healthy eating pattern as including: 

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

However, the USDPHP cautions that a healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.

In addition to shifting patterns in the food we eat, the USDPHP recommends that Americans need to achieve guidelines for physical activity.  While the numbers for minimum physical activity have increased since 2008, in 2013, barely 20 % of all adults were as active as they need to be to maintain health. 

Tips for shifting to a healthy eating pattern:

  • Increase vegetable and fruit intake overall, but also increase the variety of vegetables and fruits -- Select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables).
  • Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains -- at least half of all grain should be whole grain.
  • Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
  • Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. Current findings suggest eating more seafood is the biggest shift needed. 
  • Use oils to replace solid fats (butter, margarine, lard) where possible. 
  • Cut back on sugar, sodium and limit saturated fats to less than 10% of your daily intake. 
  • Seek opportunities to get vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and dietary fiber into your diet. 
  • Choose nutrient-rich options. 
There's more to come from the new guidelines, so check back soon!  Until then, our page will feature the old guidelines below! 

When you are finding it hard to change eating habits

  1. Look for healthy choices menus at restaurants.
  2. Choose salads or fruit/vegetables instead of french fries.
  3. Choose water over soda.
  4. Ask for low-cal or fat free reduced dressing.
  5. Order smaller lunches when you're out to eat. Save half of your dinner or lunch for tomorrow.
  6. Ask for ketchup, BBQ, salsa or mustard instead of your favorite dipping sauce.
  7. Preparing your own meals is the best way to meet nutrition guidelines!

Tips to combat stress

  1. Eat breakfast: skipping breakfast makes it harder to sustain blood sugar levels throughout the day.
  2. Try green tea instead of coffee: caffeine is hard on your body and green tea has a lot of antioxidants.
  3. Keep healthy snacks around like granola or trail mix.
  4. If you eat when your stressed try carrot sticks, celery sticks or popcorn (without the butter and salt!).
  5. Do not drink caffeine after 2 p.m., caffeine stays in your system for six hours after you drink it and will not allow you to sleep well.
  6. Changing stressful eating behaviors by doing yoga, write in a journal, exercise, laughing and meditation.

The benefits of exercise

  • Improves your chances of living longer and living healthier
  • Helps protect you from developing heart disease or its precursors, high blood pressures and high cholesterol
  • Helps protect you from developing certain cancers, including colon and breast cancer
  • Helps prevent or control type two diabetes (what was once called adult-onset diabetes)
  • Helps prevent the insidious loss of bone known as osteoporosis
  • Reduces the risk of falling among older adults
  • Relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves mood
  • Controls weight

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. In contrast, the Mayo Clinic recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise along with strength training 2 times per week. You should spread this exercise out throughout the course of the entire week so that your body has time to rest and recover as well.

Here are some tips to keep moving!

  1. Go for a 15-30 minute walk outside with a friend on your lunch break or in the afternoon.
  2. Take the stairs up and down in buildings instead of the elevator.
  3. Go dancing.
  4. Take a yoga or pilate's class two or three times a week.
  5. Clean your closet or room that is in desperate need of cleaning or dusting. 

For more information

last page update:  12 March 2021