From Our 2011 Archives
New U.S. Diet Guidelines: What Not to Eat
For First Time, Help Avoiding Bad Foods Added to Help Eating Good Foods
Daniel J. DeNoon
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
Jan. 31, 2011 -- For the first time, new U.S. dietary guidelines do more than tell us what's good for us: They spell out how to avoid specific foods and lifestyle choices that make us fat and sick.
As a case in point, here's a phrase you'll be hearing a lot: Get off your SoFAS. In addition to getting more exercise, that means to avoid extra calories from Solid Fats and Added Sugars.
But that's not all. The new guidelines come with an eye-popping list of the foods from which Americans are getting most of their calories. And for the first time, they address the environmental factors -- such as neighborhoods crammed with fast-food restaurants -- that are a major part of the obesity epidemic.
Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) update the dietary guidelines that form the basis of U.S. nutritional policy. The new 2010 guidelines, more than ever before, focus on scientific evidence as distilled into last summer's advice from an expert advisory panel.
The new dietary guidelines focus on two major themes:
There's also a focus on getting children to adopt healthy lifestyles.
"The focus on kids is critically important in stemming the tide of the obesity epidemic," says WebMD nutrition director Kathleen Zelman, RD. "Don't be overwhelmed by the changes your child needs. Just keep making small changes that you all can live with as a family. The guidelines should be your goal -- work toward them gradually.
New Dietary Guidelines
So what should the new American diet look like? The new guidelines suggest:
For now, the hard-to-understand food pyramid stays. But look for changes this spring, when the USDA and HHS plan a massive campaign to sell the new dietary guidelines to all Americans.
"We know what to eat," Zelman says. "But the new dietary guidelines will help consumers understand how to substitute healthier foods for less healthy foods and to put together more nutrient-rich meals and snacks."
SOURCES: Kathleen Zelman, RD, nutrition director, WebMD.USDA and HHS, 2010 Dietary Guidelines, released Jan. 31, 2011.