Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010-A Dietitian Explains it All

This is the first of a series of guest posts from our friends at  We think this is helpful information for both seniors and those who care for them.

Every five years the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with a panel of experts, review the latest nutrition research and compile guidelines to help the American people adopt healthy eating habits.  Decreasing the prevalence of diet related chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease is the goal of these recommendations. The most recent data indicates that 72 percent of men and 64 percent of women are overweight or obese, with about one-third of adults being obese per the USDA/HHS research.

The newly published guidelines based on this evidence are targeting a national epidemic in health—obesity.  It is very important that Americans begin making the necessary lifestyle changes that can positively impact their health and longevity.  We should consider these guidelines for ourselves, make more thoughtful food choices, use proper portion control and partake in physical activity to help improve our own health and work together with our loved ones to help them with their health.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines (released in January 2011) contains 23 key recommendations to guide all Americans as well as 6 additional key recommendations aimed at specific groups such as pregnant women.  We need to incorporate all of the key recommendations to impact our health instead of picking and choosing a few in order to be most successful.

Advice to Help You Make Lifestyle Changes

The USDA and HHS offer us all this advice based on their research:

  1. Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  2. Avoid oversized portions.
  3. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  4. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  5. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The full Dietary Guidelines are divided into specific chapters that outline the recommendations. The chapters include: balancing calories to manage weight, foods and food components to reduce, food and nutrients to increase, building healthy eating habits, and helping Americans make healthy food choices.  They also recommend that eating food is the best way to obtain the necessary nutrients.  The recommendations also offer tips on food preparation and handling that will reduce food borne illness.

We will review each chapter in detail in the coming weeks as part of this series.  We hope that you will follow all the details with us.  We invite you to submit your comments or questions.  We look forward to hearing from you.  In the meantime, begin incorporating the 6 tips above into your daily life and begin reaping the rewards of good health.

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