Extension Agent: New dietary guidelines released

Sarah Womble

By Sarah Womble

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (www.dietaryguidelines.gov).

You might ask, "Who decides these guidelines? How are they decided, and what are they used for?" These are questions I would like to answer for you.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was composed of scientific experts who reviewed and analyzed the most current information on diet and health and incorporated it into a scientific, evidence-based report. The intent is for these to be used in "developing educational materials and aiding policymakers in designing and carrying out nutrition-related programs, including federal nutrition assistance and education programs. The Dietary Guidelines also serve as the basis for nutrition messages and consumer materials developed by nutrition educators and health professionals for the general public and specific audiences, such as children."

As a health educator, I love the new guidelines. They are easy to understand and summarize the points I have been teaching kids and adults over the years.

Here they are in a summarized format for our consumers.

Take action on the Dietary Guidelines by making changes in these areas. Choose steps that work for you and start today.

Balance calories

Enjoy your food, but eat less.

Avoid portions that are too large.

Foods to increase

Fill half of your dinner plate with fruits & vegetables.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk.

Foods to reduce

Choose foods with less sodium content by reading the Nutrition Facts label.

Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

It is apparent that eating habits and regular physical activity are imperative for normal growth and development, as well as fighting chronic disease.

Take a moment to visit the Dietary Guideline website and take action if there are areas in your life that can be improved.

Sarah Womble is a Victoria County extension agent-Family and Consumer Sciences.