Every 5 years, the US Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of Agriculture team up to reevaluate their national dietary guidelines. As times change, and our understanding of healthy eating habits change, it’s important for these guidelines to evolve as well. Let’s take a look at the newest set of changes to the government’s eating recommendations.
Diets for Babies
With the rise in food allergies, the departments now recommend feeding your infant high-allergen foods early, at around 4 to 6 months of age. Introducing these foods earlier means giving the baby’s immune system a chance to acclimate to the allergens. This reduces the possibility of developing severe allergies later on. It’s also recommended that women try to breastfeed to the best of their ability for 6 months. Studies have shown that drinking breast milk helps reduce the risk of chronic illness in infants.
In light of recent studies showing the negative effects of alcohol, the dietary guidelines now recommend that people drink less. That means 1 drink a day if you’re a woman, and 2 drinks a day if you’re a man. Drinking large amounts of alcohol is associated with liver disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Replace Saturated Fats with Unsaturated Fats
The guideline to only consume 10% saturated fats has not changed. But, if you’re able to, it now suggests swapping out all saturated fats with unsaturated fats. For example, you can replace red meat with legumes and nuts. Instead of eating eggs, try avocados instead. High amounts of saturated fats may lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity.
Cutting Out Sugars
Hidden, processed sugars are everywhere—and most Americans consume too much of them. Try limiting the amount of sugar that you consume to about 10% of your diet. Of course, this doesn’t refer to natural sugars found in fruits and berries. The type of sugar to avoid is the white powdery stuff, also known as refined sugar. Most processed foods and sodas contain loads of refined sugar. So if you have a sweet-tooth, you might want to head to the produce section.
Number of Meals per Day
Studies show that eating more daily meals is actually healthier. That’s because it cuts down on your snacking and consumption of unhealthy foods. Try to eat at least 3 meals a day, if not more. Of course, they don’t all have to be a lavish feast. They can be small, nutrient-dense meals like green juice with a bowl of hot oatmeal and fresh sliced fruit.