NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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New Guidelines for a Healthier New You

New Guidelines for a Healthier New You 

            New dietary guidelines for Americans were released the end of 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  While many of the recommendations and messages remain the same there are a few key changes and clearer explanations of how what we eat affects our health.  Key messages from the new guidelines include:


            Balancing Calories - enjoy your food, but eat less

            The total number of calories consumed is what is important to body weight. Although total calorie intake is ultimately what affects calorie balance, some foods and beverages can be easily over consumed, which results in a higher total calorie intake. The best advice is to monitor what you eat and replace foods higher in calories with nutrient-dense foods and beverages that are lower in calories.


            More of this; Less of that

            Decrease your intake of added fats and sugars and increase your intake of lower calorie, nutrient dense whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Moderate evidence shows that adults who eat more whole grains, particularly those higher in dietary fiber, have a lower body weight compared to adults who eat fewer whole grains. Moderate evidence in adults and limited evidence in children and adolescents suggests increased intake of vegetables and/or fruits may protect against weight gain.

            Try filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and cooked dry beans and peas. As a general guideline, your plate should contain half fruits and vegetables. Divide the other half between a protein and a grain source. Make half your grains whole grains.



            Avoid oversized portions

            People eat and drink more when they are given larger portions. Downsize your portion size. Eat off smaller plates and / or serve smaller portions at home. When eating out: order a small-sized option when possible, share a meal, or take home part of the meal.  Consider asking for the to-go box right away and put half the meal away so you can’t see it. Review the calorie content of foods and beverages offered and choose lower-calorie options. Calorie information may be available on menus, in a pamphlet, on food wrappers, or online.



            Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

            Increase your intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages. If you are drinking whole milk, gradually switch to lower fat options. If you are drinking whole milk, go to 2% and move on down to 1% low-fat or fat-free milk. Lower fat milk provides the same nutrients as higher fat milk, but is lower in calories.



            Skip the salt

             A strong body of evidence supports that as sodium intake for adults decreases, so does blood pressure. There is moderate evidence the same is true for children. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers


            Replace sugary drinks with water

            Added sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in American diets. As a percent of calories from total added sugars, a major source of added sugars in the diets of Americans is soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks (36% of added sugar intake).  Sugar-sweetened beverages provide excess calories and few essential nutrients to the diet and should only be consumed when nutrient needs have been met and without exceeding daily calorie limits.


            As we continue through February with Heart Healthy month, the color red can be a terrific reminder of heart healthy foods –

-         Add a few of those tiny red hot cinnamon heart candies to a popcorn snack.


-         Tossed salad with such red additions as red bell peppers, cherry or grape tomatoes


-         Make a polka-dotted open-faced peanut butter sandwich. Cut bread into a heart shape, spread with peanut butter and dot with dried cranberries. Or, make a smiley face with the dried cranberries. Another idea would be to purchase some heart-shaped crackers, if available at your local store; substitute for the bread.


-         Cole slaw made with red cabbage or other red foods such as red peppers, red onions and apples


-         Cranberry sauce -- use that bag of cranberries in your freezer that you bought when they were on sale


-         Red grapes as a side dish to your sandwich for noontime nibbling



            Raspberry smoothie -- Put 3/4 to 1 cup vanilla-flavored yogurt in a blender. Add a few tablespoons of frozen raspberries at a time; blend until desired consistency. After mixing -- if desired -- blend in 1 or more teaspoons of sugar or no calorie sweetener to taste.





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