This holiday season I was able to spend time with my parents who are now 70’ish. Did we sit and read or watch TV? No, I went to Tai Chi with mom and motorcycle riding with dad.
My mom was the reason I became a dietitian. She emphasized nutrition my entire childhood. She cooks from scratch using real food and incorporating plenty of vegetables, fruits and nuts. She even has her own blog, The Gluten Free Edge. My dad is not much of a plant food eater but she finds creative ways to prepare the ones he does like or encourage him to like others. Despite their age, they are living life healthy and well.
The recently released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines provide healthy eating patterns like my mom uses to help prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Department of Agriculture undergo a lengthy process every five years to ensure that the Dietary Guidelines reflect the most recent science. Obesity and other chronic diseases come with increased health risks and costs. Healthy eating helps you take control of your health and enables you to live a healthy, high quality of life.
The key is choosing a healthy eating pattern that is right for you. That means an eating pattern that can be maintained for your lifetime and, at appropriate calorie levels to promote health and support a healthy body weight. A Registered Dietitian can help you choose a healthy eating pattern or you can use the many tools available to incorporate the new Dietary Guidelines using many of the foods that you enjoy.
The areas to consider include:
Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level and accounts for your taste preferences, culture, traditions, and budget.
A healthy eating pattern includes real food and more plants:
- 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 from plants
A healthy eating pattern limits processed foods and junk:
- Saturated fats; Saturated – less than 10% of total calories per day.
- Trans fats; Generally, found in processed foods.
- Added sugars; Less than 10% of total calories per day.
- Sodium; Less than 2300 mg per day.
- Alcohol; If you drink alcohol, it should be in moderation.
There is a healthy eating pattern for every one and everyone’s lifestyle. Registered Dietitians are the experts in food and nutrition that can help you plan an eating pattern that is right for you. Additionally, you can find various examples of healthy eating patterns and the Top 10 Things You Need to Know on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines webpage or ChooseMyPlate.gov.