You might have noticed recent news releases that new dietary guidelines have been published. These guidelines are based on current scientific evidence and are published by the Federal advisory committee in order to help Americans improve our overall health and reduce chronic disease. I feel these recommendations are important to note so I’ve composed this list of tips that reflect what I feel are key take-aways from the guidelines.
1. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables. Aim to sneak them in wherever you can. School lunch boxes, at breakfast and at the dinner table. If you have a fresh bowl of fruit out and visible, it’s easier to make this choice. If vegetables are washed, peeled and cut in the refrigerator, it’s easier to grab them for a quick and easy snack. Get your kids involved with picking out new produce at the grocery store or farmers market and helping you prepare it. They may not always eat it but if you lead by example, they eventually will try more new things.
2. Increase the amount of whole grains. Start by slowly removing refined grains such as white bread, white rice and white pasta from your diet and transition to whole grain breads, rice and pasta. Quinoa is an excellent nutrient dense grain to consider. It can be used as a side dish as pasta since quinoa flour is mare available now. A cereal made with whole grains is one of the best ways to start your day. Make sure the first ingredient on the food label says whole grains or whole wheat not enriched.
3. Cut back on added sugar. For the first time the guidelines recommend <10 % of total calories from sugar. This can be a challenge since sugar is added to so many things; yogurt, cereal and granola bars. For a child 5 years of age, that is 28-32 grams per day, 7-8 tsps. The best place to start by eliminating sweetened drinks in your home. Cut sugar in half with favorite yogurts by mixing half with unflavored yogurt. Make homemade baked snacks (instead of granola bars) that you can reduce the added sugar. Check out my blog post on sugar for more detailed information.
4. Switch to healthier fats. It’s not new change to reduce saturated fats to 10% or less and eliminate trans fats since both have been linked to heart disease. However, its more important to replace saturated fats with Omega-3- fatty acids, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Include olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish, avocados, canola oils, nuts and seeds, all in moderation. For more information on Omega-3’s check out my last post.
5. Limit salt. Daily sodium recommendation is now 2300mg (about about 1 tsp.). The majority of sodium in people’s diets comes from eating processed foods. This is another great reason to cook meals and eat together as a family since you can cut back on the amount of sodium just by cooking using fresh ingredients whenever possible.
6. Get your kids active. For children 6 years old and older, the recommendation is 60 minutes of physical activity daily. This could be from structured sports, ballet classes, gymnastics, playing on the playground or having physical education at school. The 60 minutes can be broken up throughout the day and doesn’t have to be all at once. Encourage your child to be active daily by limiting the amount of time they can watch T.V. or computer and take them outside. At my house dance parties are popular!