National Nutrition Month: Put Your Best Fork Forward

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is Put Your Best Fork Forward.

So how exactly can you go about leading with your best fork?

Small shifts in your food choices add up over time. So don’t stress if you don’t have a “perfect” diet – just work to make small changes that move you in the right direction!

Here are the key messages for this year’s month-long celebration of nutrition:

  1. Create an eating style that includes a variety of your favorite, healthful foods.
  2. Practice cooking more at home and experiment with healthier ingredients.
  3. How much we eat is as important as what we eat. Eat and drink the right amount for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  4. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  5. Manage your weight or lower your health risks by consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

For more great information about National Nutrition Month, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ NNM website.

 

DietaryGuidelines_LandingPage_0

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are Federal guidelines intended for all Americans 2 years and older on healthy eating and physical activity. The DGA is based on the most current research and is reviewed, updated and published every 5 years in a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made up of health and nutrition experts.

The new guidelines will affect federal school lunches, food labels, and a number of federal funded community programs. Both consumers and health professionals use the guidelines for consistent dietary recommendations based on evidenced based research.

The final draft has not yet been published, however here are the proposed changes to look out for in the new guidelines:

  1. The guidelines will be based on the new MyPlate icon, which replaced the Food Pyramid a few years ago.
  2. There have never been limits or recommended allowances for sugar consumption, however the new 2015 guidelines may now include specific limits on added sugars that will be added to nutrition facts labels. The proposed recommendations advise that 10% of caloric intake come from added sugars, which equates to about 50 grams of sugar a day for the average person.
  3. The 2010 guidelines already recommend choosing lean cuts of meat and consuming a variety of types of protein. However, the 2015 guidelines propose to not only choose lean cuts of meat but to consume fewer red and processed types of meat.
  4. The current 2010 guidelines recommend that pregnant women avoid caffeine all together, however the new 2015 guidelines propose that caffeine intake be less than 200 milligrams a day, which equates to about 2 cups a day.
  5. A note on sustainability may be added to the new guidelines as well. A plant-based diet, which is good for both your health and the environment, will be recommended in the new 2015 guidelines.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans remain the most current guidelines and the revised 2015 guidelines remains in the process of being finalized. You can view the current 2010 guidelines and check the progress of the new 2015 guidelines at: www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Special thanks to Dietetic Intern Jenny Legrand for her contributions to this post.

USDA Nutrient Database Gets an Update

USDA

Are you on a need-to-know basis about the nutrient content of your foods?

Chances are, if you are a nutrition blog reader, you are also a label reader.

But what do you do when your favorite foods don’t feature the Nutrition Facts panel? Foods like fruits, vegetables, some meats and other whole foods may not have the familiar food label.

If you’re curious about the nutrient content of these foods, check out the USDA Nutrient Database. This database is maintained by the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and was just recently updated for its 27th version.

The database houses comprehensive nutrient information for tens of thousands of foods. You can sort foods by nutrient or food groups to learn the ins and outs of what is really in your food.

To get started exploring your foods, check out the newly updated USDA Nutrient Database available by clicking here.