Alissa Smethers, MS, RD, LDN
At Campbell Soup, we know consumers are trying to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Our nutrition scientists and RDNs help them meet those needs through the provision of nutritious products, recipes and meal plans that meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendations. This month, we worked with our guest author and Registered Dietitian, Alissa Smethers to provide her perspective on how we can all shift into healthier eating patterns by applying some of the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Earlier this year, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 were released. This resource provides essential information on nutritional guidelines for policymakers, health professionals, and nutrition educators. While key messages are similar to previous editions, this release celebrates an overall healthy eating pattern throughout a person’s entire life. Learn how you can apply these recommendations to your lifestyle.
Shift to a Healthy Eating Pattern
Updated guidelines urge Americans to follow an overall healthy eating pattern throughout the lifespan even more than earlier editions. Previous recommendations focused on individual nutrients to limit and encourage, while this edition focuses on the total diet and adopting a healthy eating pattern throughout all stages of life. A healthy eating pattern is made up of a variety of foods within and among food groups to provide the necessary nutrients to maintain health and prevent chronic disease. Some examples of healthy eating patterns include the Mediterranean Diet, the Healthy-U.S. Style Eating Pattern, and the Healthy Vegetarian Diet.
New Ways to Meet Old Recommendations
1) Include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Whether you prefer canned, dried, fresh, frozen, or juice, it is clear that Americans need to eat more. Be adventurous and choose a new fruit or vegetable from your local farmer’s market that is in season. Need more inspiration? Take a look at some of Campbell’s featured vegetable articles, products, and recipes that provide at least half a serving of fruit and/or vegetable.
2) Make half your grains whole grains. Same recommendation but lots of new ways to meet it. Read labels to ensure you are selecting whole grains, and try new products and recipes that feature trendy, ancient grains such as quinoa, bulgur, or freekeh. Try out this easy recipe featuring bulgur, or find inspiration from your Pinterest and Instagram feeds.
3) Include a variety of lean protein foods. Go lean with plant based proteins. Did you know 2016 is the International Year of Pulses? Pulses, which include beans, lentils, and peas, are a nutritious protein choice that can be substituted for higher fat meats or paired with lean meats. Try this recipe that uses lentils to incorporate some vegetable protein into your next meal.
New Recommendations on Nutrients to Limit
Naturally Occurring vs Added Sugars
The average American eats over 5.5 tablespoons of added sugar each day. New guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories. This would be about 4 tablespoons of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet. In addition to table sugar, added sugars include sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, honey, dextrose, molasses and other caloric sweeteners added to foods or recipes. The limits include all sugars added to sweeten beverages, snacks, and desserts—homemade or packaged—but do not apply to foods with naturally occurring sugars such as dairy products or fruit1.
- Drink water, 100% juice, and juice plus water products instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Enjoy sugar sweetened foods in moderation. You can still include the treats you love, but be mindful of portion sizes to stay within calorie needs.
- Use fruit to sweeten foods instead of table sugar or as a way to use less sugar. For example, choose plain yogurt and add fresh berries or sliced bananas for natural sweetness.
The Type of Fat Matters Most
Although recent headlines screamed “Butter is Back”, the type of fat still matters. The Dietary Guidelines maintain their recommendation from previous years to consume no more than 10% of calories from saturated fat. For a 2,000 calorie diet, this is about 22g or about 4.5 teaspoons per day1. Additionally, Americans should continue to limit trans fats as much as possible. While the new guidelines no longer set an upper limit on cholesterol intake, foods high in saturated fats, like animal products, also tend to be high in cholesterol. Therefore, by decreasing saturated fat intake, you will also consume less dietary cholesterol.
- Use avocados in place of sour cream or full fat mayo for sandwich toppings and dips.
- Shift food choices from foods high in saturated fats like butter and hydrogenated vegetables oils to foods higher in mono- and polyunsaturated fats like canola oil and olive oil.
- Improve your favorite comfort foods by cooking with canola and olive oils and choosing low fat and fat free dairy options. Try this delicious Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli recipe for your next pasta night!
How healthy is your eating pattern? A first step may be some self-reflection. I am trying to incorporate a larger variety of vegetables into my eating pattern. Keep a food log and see how your diet rates against the recommendations outlined by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We all have room for improvement so start today!
Cheers to Healthy Eating,
Alissa is currently a Nutrition PhD candidate at The Pennsylvania State University where she is conducting research on childhood obesity prevention with an emphasis on portion size and energy density. Alissa previously obtained her Master’s degree in Nutrition and completed a dietetic internship at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Alissa has experience working as a clinical dietitian and is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.