2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines
On January 31, 2011, the USDA released the seventh edition of its dietary guidelines for Americans. The 112-page document analyzes American eating habits, consequences of these habits, and methods of shaping America’s healthier future. While the research backing up the guide is thorough and very much scientific, the guide itself is presented in an easy-to-understand manner. The guide, essentially, lays out a general diet plan based on a handful of key tips.
The USDA guideline contains six chapters that go over the following:
- writing of the guide
- managing weight by controlling caloric consumption
- reducing unhealthy foods and food components
- increasing healthy foods and food components
- building healthy eating patterns
- ensuring Americans act to live healthy
Tables, charts, and infographics
There are numerous tables and infographics in the guide that act as quick cheat sheets to the role of various nutrients, nutritional needs, etc. For example, there are simplified pages with bulleted key points, a table of top 25 sources of calories among Americans, and even a bar graph depicting estimated mean daily sodium intake among Americans.
The infographics also include usable data that can help people make healthy eating choices. A graph that visualizes the percentage breakdown of the type of fats in foods can help readers choose foods high in monounsaturated (healthy) fats. Such table is found on page 38.
In general, the guide includes so much useful information explaining why one should eat a certain type of food or nutrient and how to do so. The guide can serve as a free alternate to various healthy eating books, but the only caveat to the guide is that its information is so dense and expansive that few will find the time to sift through it all.
The USDA has created a quick sheet of key aspects of a healthy diet, but even so, these key points cannot speak for the depth of the entire guideline.
Dietary Guidelines 2010: Selected Message for Consumers
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Regardless, if you are looking to eat healthier, check out the guideline, print it out, and read it over a period of time. Of course, you should also keep visiting Toastable.com, since I am a huge advocate of eating healthy.