: Putting together a healthy diet is complicated and confusing?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
With all the requirements of a healthy diet, putting together a diet plan that meets all the dietary recommendations is time consuming and difficult.
WHAT WE KNOW
Grams, calories, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, daily values, RDAs … the list goes on! For many Americans sorting out what is considered a carbohydrate or a protein can be complex, let alone determining their daily intake of all the vitamins and minerals! Even with good intentions, many Americans may be lacking in key areas of their diet because of misunderstanding or confusion. But don’t get overwhelmed! The recommendations can be easily broken down into three (3) areas.
1. Food Groups.
A healthy eating pattern encompasses 5 main food groups …
- Milk & Milk Products
- Protein (Meat, Fish, Poultry, Eggs and Nuts)
The servings from each food group are different for each individual.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans stresses the move to a more plant-based diet, specifically instructing Americans to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables.
A person’s total amount of calories should be broken into 3 main categories …
- Carbohydrates: 45-65%
- Protein: 10-35%
- Fat: 20-35%
3. Other Key Recommendations.
- Sodium: <2,300 mg*
- Fiber: 28g/2,000 calories
- Water: 64 oz/day
- Saturated Fat: <10% of calories
Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamins and minerals are specific to each gender and age group. And consuming the recommended servings from each food group (especially fruits and vegetables) should meet all of your DRIs.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
During World War II when many men were rejected from military service because of effects of poor nutrition on their health, the need for official dietary recommendations was organized. In 1941 the National Food Board established the dietary standards for evaluating nutritional status. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) were produced in 1993 and have been released in stages through out the last few years.
Under the umbrella of DRIs, the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) are set. These values mean that the recommendation meets nutrient requirement of 98% of healthy individuals in a particular life state and gender group (what you want to aim for!).
Researchers have worked to clarify the science of nutrition into practical terms, so that consumers with no special training could estimate whether their nutritional needs were being met. The DRIs and accompanying nutrient standards are used to determine recommended intake for each food group. The USDA originally created the Food Guide Pyramid, which has changed over the years to become MyPyramid—emphasizing individuality.
Creating a healthy eating plan doesn’t have to be complicated! Instead of worrying about the minor details, focus on filling half your plate with fruits and veggies for every meal/snack and follow these simple steps:
- Visit MyPyramid to create a balanced eating plan specific to you.
- Consume foods high in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol less often.
- Incorporate fruits and veggies into every meal and snack. See Recipes
Also check out our weekly Healthy Menu Ideas—they all meet the key recommendations, and remember that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans stresses the move to a more plant-based diet, specifically instructing Americans to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables.
*Further reduce intake of sodium to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 or older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.