Every five years the dietary guidelines for Americans are reviewed and updated based on comprehensive studies of our nation’s health. They are jointly issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. But what exactly are they and why should you care?
The guidelines are recommendations, advice, or tips on how to eat balanced and healthy. The guidelines serve as a roadmap to health.
On Monday, January 31 new guidelines were released in an effort to fight the “…epidemic of overweight and obesity.” In the report released, two main concepts were emphasized:
The first concept emphasized achieving and sustaining a healthy weight through caloric balance. In essence, if you eat as much as you burn you’ll maintain weight. However, we often underestimate how much we eat and overestimate how many calories we burn. Unless you are keeping an accurate food journal, these calculations could result in gradual weight gain. To prevent weight gain 60 minutes of moderate daily physical activity is recommended (source: MyPyramid.gov).
If you are trying to lose weight, you’ll need to create a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories to lose one pound per week. How would you burn an extra 500 calories? Start by making small changes in your diet and exercise. For instance, if you normally have a burrito for lunch try switching it out for a burrito bowl? Eliminating the flour tortilla will save about a 100 calories. Also, instead of coffee breaks put on that pedometer (hint: sign up for our awesome giveaway!) and spend 10 minutes taking a brisk walk or walking the stairwell. Walking ten minutes briskly burns approximately 35 calories or 70 calories if walking stairs.
The above suggestions are just that suggestions — baby steps to a youthful, healthier, more fit you!
The second concept highlighted was on consuming nutrient dense foods and beverages. Nutrient density is basically choosing foods that give you the most nutrients, vitamins and minerals per calorie.
For example consider the mineral calcium, is fat-free milk or whole milk more nutrient dense?
When it comes to calcium, fat-free milk gives us the most calcium per calorie! 3.5 milligrams per calorie.
Calculating nutrient density for foods is more complicated when we take into consideration that foods offer several nutrients. However, we can ease the confusion by choosing foods and beverages that are not processed and reading the nutrition facts label and ingredient list.
MyPyramid.gov wants you to get enough Vitamin A & C, Minerals Calcium and Iron. If the label reads Calcium 31%, that means that one serving provides 31% of the total recommended daily value for a 2,000 calorie eating plan. You’re 31% of the way there!
Although the 2010 guidelines mostly reiteritated the state of our nation’s health, I think they serve as an important reminder that: We need to take care of ourselves! And taking care of our health is not a one day deal. It is a commitment of constant care — and, get this: you can start anytime! Wouldn’t today be a good day to start?