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What the New Nutrition Guidelines Mean for You

Every five years, the United States government (USDA and HHS) releases a new set of
recommendations that reflect current data on healthy eating and exercise.  Since 1980, the guidelines have promoted healthy lifestyle choices to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Recently, the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines was released.  The new guidelines focus more on healthy eating patterns, instead of individual food groups.  Remember the food guide pyramid?

Here are the five main points to the guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amounts.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

What is a “healthy eating pattern?”

An eating pattern is the combination of foods and beverages that make up a person’s dietary intake over time.  These patterns may be described as a customary, or habitual, way of eating.  Consider your own eating pattern and answer the following questions:

 Do I consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains?

 Am I eating a variety of protein at each meal, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, and beans?

 Does my plate consist of mostly whole, unprocessed foods, or does most of it come from a box or package?

 Am I mindful of portion sizes?

The following chart may help you further define a healthy eating pattern:


Variety of vegetables – dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy Saturated fats, like animal fats or solid fats at room temperature
Fruits, especially whole fruits Trans fats in processed foods
Grains, mostly whole and unprocessed Added sugars
Variety of protein Sodium
Oils – liquids like olive and canola Alcohol
Low-fat or fat-free dairy Inactivity

For more details about the guidelines, you can find the entire report here.

Shifting to a new way of eating can take time and effort.  To help make the transition a bit easier, here are a few final tips to leave you with:

  1. Remember to make small changes over time.
  2. Use Choose MyPlate to guide food selection and amounts.
  3. Seek a Registered Dietitian to tailor an eating pattern to fit your individual health goals.

Start experimenting to improve your eating pattern today!

This post was written by CHI Health Dietitian, Angie Katzberg, RD/LMNT.

CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team
CHI Health Food and Nutrition Services Team

These blogs are written by members of the CHI Health Nutrition Services team.

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