Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Suggestions for Good Health - dummies

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Suggestions for Good Health

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

Published in 2000 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the following list contains the ten Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The 2000 edition of the Dietary Guidelines is a big departure from earlier versions. The updated guidelines are broader in tone and content and reflect a more international perspective. Though other nations’ dietary advice may be worded differently, the international health community agrees that the following suggestions are essential to good health.

  • Aim for Fitness

    • Aim for a healthy weight.

    • Be physically active each day.

  • Build a Healthy Base

    • Let the Food Pyramid guide your food choices.

    • Select a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains.

    • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

    • Keep foods safe to eat.

    Choose Sensibly

    • Choose a diet that’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat.

    • Pick beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars.

    • Choose and prepare foods with less salt.

    • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

Notice that the guidelines are grouped into three categories (think A, B, and C). As you read them, you’ll notice that the information in the third group, “choose sensibly” is much more specific than the general ideas in the first, “Aim for Fitness.” This organization isn’t meant as a hierarchy of importance. The idea is depth, meaning that the second group is more detailed than the first, and the third is ultra specific.

Of course, guidelines are just that — suggested steps that you can take to ensure good health. Remember, too, that these recommendations are for a healthy life, not for single meals or foods. For example, if you decide to eat a piece of birthday cake at your daughter’s party, that’s fine; you haven’t ruined your diet or your eating habits. What counts is that over the course of time, you’re striving to

  • Be physically active

  • Generally eat foods low in fat and high in fiber

  • Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet

  • Be at an appropriate calorie level for you

The Dietary Guidelines apply to all healthy Americans ages 2 and over. They provide sound nutrition advice and are updated every five years to incorporate the latest in well-founded nutrition knowledge.