Nutritional Tidbits

Life and The Dietary Guidelines — An Update

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted! From the craziness that are grad school admissions and dietetic internship matching, to passing Nutrient Metabolism and spending time with friends, life got quite busy in my final semester at Cornell.

But here I am, back in the blogosphere. I thought I’d give you all… or I guess I should start saying y’all… an update. In 24 hours I’ll be moving to North Carolina! Besides a Spring Break trip to New Orleans a few months ago, I’ve never been to the South. Bring on the Sweet Tea and collard greens.

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But why North Carolina you ask? In the fall, I’ll start the Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian Program at UNC Chapel Hill. I’m excited to get started on this new adventure–just one step away from my dream of becoming a registered dietitian. In the meantime, I’ll be settling into my new apartment in Carrboro while doing a bit of summer research at UNC. I can’t wait to hop around town and get to know all its farmer’s markets, breweries and coffee shops.

In the ever-evolving nutrition world, a lot has been going on. One of the biggest updates is the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which of course didn’t actually come out until January 2016 (thanks Congress for your endless opinions). But anyways, it’s out! And there are few changes to the recommendations for healthy living.

dietary guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines are originally meant for health professionals to help guide their patients, and “it serves as the evidence-based foundation for nutrition education materials that are developed by the Federal Government for the public.” However, I believe that everyone should know what exactly their dietitian or doctor is basing nutrition recommendations on, and this issue of the Dietary Guidelines is fairly easy to navigate and understand. So why not read up a little bit?

Coming from an evidence-based, whole diet perspective, I tend to almost always side with the Dietary Guidelines. I’m all about balance, and that is generally how the Guidelines fair.

So, what do you really need to know?

First off, a “moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz cups/day or providing up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns.” Woot!! For all you coffee addicts out there, the evidence shows that moderate coffee consumption is not associated with increased risk of chronic disease.

*Sips delicious iced coffee*

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But in all seriousness, the key recommendations are as follows:

dietary guidelines infographic

 

The recommendations also get specific with a few items:

  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age

In addition to the US Healthy Eating Pattern, the Guidelines also highlight two other Healthy Eating Patterns: The Healthy Mediterranean Style Eating Pattern and a Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern. While both of these eating patterns were also highlighted in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines along with a few other diets, this version’s author cut down on the content a bit. Choosing to include the Mediterranean Style diet to the Guidelines is pretty significant, there is a lot of evidence that this eating pattern can greatly increase an individual’s health status.

If you are really curious about your own individual nutrients based on your age and calorie level, you can check out the extensive Appendixes… but be warned, they are quite dense. As always, I’ll suggest you speak to a registered dietitian about any nutrition concerns you have or any drastic changes you want to make in your eating pattern.

Be balanced, be well. And don’t be afraid of coffee 🙂

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