Have you ever wished for a dietary roadmap to assist you in your family’s meal planning? How about one using a science-based approach by our nation’s top nutrition experts and updated to align with the latest research? The recently released Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s report is just that.
First developed in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines are updated every five years. In addition to helping Americans navigate the nutrition world, they’re used for federal nutrition programs and building consumer messages. For example, the National School Lunch Program utilizes the recommendations in order to feed over 30 million children every day.
Its new focus is on children’s health. Preventing childhood obesity is the most powerful public health initiative to combat our country’s obesity epidemic in the long term.
• Children and teens should accumulate at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.
• Kids should be discouraged from drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.
• We should eat a more plant-centered diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
• The benefits of cooked seafood outweigh the risks from mercury and other possible contaminants. Aim for two 4-ounce servings per week.
• Healthy patterns of eating include the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
• Daily vitamins don’t benefit healthy people. An exception is people who have a calcium or iron deficiency who may wish to supplement their diet.
The report acknowledges the difficulty in changing your diet unless changes are made to the overall food environment. How do you eat a nutrient-dense diet at the same time supermarkets, schools, restaurants and other food venues offer myriad food and beverage choices high in fat, sugar and sodium?
The report recommends that we:
• Improve people’s nutrition literacy and cooking skills.
• Motivate families with children to prepare and enjoy more home-cooked meals.
• Encourage the food industry to offer smaller portions of foods that promote health. These include foods low in sodium, added sugars, refined flours and solid fats.
A bit of controversy
The committee suggests people reduce sodium to just 1,500 milligrams each day, and cut out foods with added sodium. Some nutrition experts dismiss this as being unrealistic in today’s society. The report also recommends upping potassium in the diet — plentiful in produce — which helps cut sodium’s effect on blood pressure.
According to Toby Smithson, RD, LDN, CDE, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, some groups feel there should be more definitive guidelines for the amount of fat in the diet and more emphasis on vitamin D. She adds that some critics want, “more focus on choosing whole grains instead of making half your grains whole.”
The committee’s recommendations will be considered when the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services develop the final Dietary Guidelines early next year.
To read the full report, go to www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
Q: What are “SoFAS?”
A: SoFAS refer to the solid fats and added sugars that contribute too many calories — about 35 percent — to the American diet for kids, teens and adults. You, likely, understand the meaning of added sugars. Solid fats are the fats in butter, cheese, stick margarine, vegetable shortening and the fats in meat.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD is a registered dietitian from suburban Chicago and a mother of three. She can be reached at (630) 369-8495 or [email protected]
Grape Tomato Bruschetta
Makes eight bruschetta
4 Arnold Honey Wheat Sandwich Thins rolls, separated
2 pints grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil
12 fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
INSTRUCTIONS: Toast Sandwich Thins halves to a light golden brown. In a bowl, mix tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Stack basil leaves and roll them in the shape of a log. Slice the rolled basil, making ribbons. Toss most of the cut basil with the tomatoes, reserving a bit of fresh basil to garnish. Spoon dressed tomatoes on top of each toasted Sandwich Thins half and garnish with a few fresh basil ribbons.
NUTRITION FACTS: 100 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 0 trans fat and cholesterol, 3 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar, 115 milligrams sodium, 15 percent DV vitamins A and C, 2 percent DV calcium, 4 percent DV iron.
Recipe courtesy of Claire Robinson of
“Five Ingredient Fix.”