the new dietary guidelines for americans

first of all, thank you so much for all of your comments on yesterday’s post. i liked the discussion about the topic. i think one thing that really stuck out to me was lindsay’s comment that when it comes down to it, we can’t make the changes for others, they have to want it for themselves. so true.


before i get to what i really want to talk about today (the 2010 dietary guidelines for americans that were released yesterday), i have to show you what i did last night! ๐Ÿ™‚

when i cleaned out my closet + dresser a couple weeks ago, i had a huge pile of clothes that i was planning to donate to goodwill. jenn from peas & crayons commented that i needed to grab a shirt or two out of that pile to make one of her diy shredded jersey scarves. i FINALLY did it last night! it’s really easy to do, so you should check out her blog for all the details! note: she just did a follow-up post with another method last night. i still have one my shirt that i didn’t end up using last night, so i might try the new method too! ๐Ÿ™‚

anyway, i started with this pile of 4 shirts that i thought i would like to turn into scarves.

then i followed the directions on jenn’s blog and ended up with this…

and this…

and this….

sorry for the crazy zoom! ๐Ÿ™‚

three fun new scarves to spice things up for ZERO dollars! that’s what i’m talking about. thanks jenn!’


ok, on to business…

yesterday, the 2010 dietary guidelines for americans were presented by the department of health and human services and the USDA at a press conference. i watched the live stream of the press conference (yes i’m a dork) and read through the whole policy document (ok, so i scanned a lot of it – it’s over 100 pages!).

there are definitely some big picture recommendations that stand out when you read the document. they recommend that americans INCREASE their intake of:

  • fruits and vegetables and add variety (no surprise here)
  • low-fat or fat-free dairy (and remove high-fat versions)
  • whole grain consumption (while decreasing refined versions)
  • increase variety in protein choices
  • increase consumption and variety of seafood
  • replace proteins high in solid fat with those lower in solid fats
  • use oil in place of solid fat
  • increase foods that are good sources of potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D

they recommend that americans REDUCE their intake of:

  • sodium (to 2300 or 1500 mg per day depending on risk group)
  • sugar-sweetened beverages
  • saturated fat (less than 10% of total daily calories)
  • cholesterol (300mg or less day per)
  • trans fat (as low as possible)
  • solid fats (butter, coconut oil, palm oil, animal fat, shortening, margarine)
  • refined grains (and replace with whole grains)
  • alcohol (only consume if your are of legal drinking age and then in moderation)

what i liked about these recommendations:

  • they recommend increasing fruits and vegetables, which is great! one of their selected messages to give consumers was to make each plate of food half fruits and vegetables. everyone could stand to eat more fruits and veggies.
  • they recommend drinking water instead of sugary drinks. i highly support this idea too. children are consuming a HUGE percentage of their daily calories from beverages, which are less satiating and usually high in sugar. water and milk are the best choices for children AND adults.
  • there is a whole chapter on balancing calories to manage weight and another one on establishing good dietary patterns. they recommend eating less and avoiding oversized portions (portion distortion is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine). the fact that they are talking about dietary patterns is great because it relates all of these individual food group/nutrient recommendations to an overall HEALTHY DIET.

a couple things i dislike about the recommendations:

  • this one is totally political, but in talking about protein choices, they were very indirect in their recommendations. they say to choose less of those that are high in solid fats. that is extremely confusing to most of the population. they should have just said eat less beef, pork, and chicken. but, this issue goes back to the first set of dietary guidelines many years ago where they DID make a suggestion to decrease consumption of certain meats. the meat lobbiests threw a fit, threw some money around, and those recommendations were removed. to me, that is absolutely ridiculous and we clearly haven’t moved past that in today’s recommendations.
  • the new sodium recommendation is very very low. i keep track of my daily intake on an iphone app, and even in my minimally processed diet, i still almost always go over 1500mg. i agree that reducing sodium intake in the overall population is a good idea, but i’m not sure how attainable this is.

oh my goodness, i had a couple more points i wanted to make, but this post is getting a little long. you get a cookie if you read it all! ๐Ÿ™‚

i have a LOT more that i could say about the new guidelines and i actually wrote up a little comparison of the 2005 guidelines with the 2010 ones because i was really interested to see exactly what had been changed, but i don’t want to be even more long-winded. if anyone is interested, i can talk about the rest of this in another post soon.

what do you think of the new recommendations?


have you done any fun DIY projects lately?


About sarah

hi, i'm sarah. i'm a graduate student, dog lover, newlywed, blogger, aspiring baker/cook, and a veggie lover. :)
This entry was posted in facts and hints, healthy living, nutrition and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to the new dietary guidelines for americans

  1. Thanks for the dietary guidelines rundown girl! Now that i’m not knee deep in the health department i’m a tad out of touch with having this info shoved in my face… and I love having this stuff in my face! haha! I read it too fast though and totally need to reread this again now ๐Ÿ˜‰ I got distracted by your baller scarves.

    Expect to see them plastered on my blog within the hour. love ya! you flipping rock

  2. Kelly says:

    I tried that scarf thing too! Mine didn’t turn out so well…… those are cute!

    • Sarah says:

      thanks, kelly! at first i didn’t think i did it right, but i played around with how i was wearing them & i decided that i LOVED the first one, so i made more! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. they are definitely BIG changes that NEED to be made.. so i am happy they have addressed the common issues.. but i agree with you in that they need to be more specific.. its really surprising just how little people know.. although they could easily research online for their own sake.. i just think so many people are afraid to change

    • Sarah says:

      a lot of people are really unaware the recommendations, at least exactly how they are laid out in the document that was released yesterday. i mean, people know to eat more fruit & veggies, but they don’t know the different groups of veggies they’re supposed to get variety from (not just french fries -argh!!), etc.

      soon, dhhs and usda should be releasing documents that are more reader-friendly and aren’t geared at professionals. i’m really interested to see how they present this information for the general public.

  4. I’m so happy that they’re recommending a decrease in sodium and sugary beverages!

    Love the scarves, those are too cute! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah says:

      thanks courtney! i agree, the sodium & surgary beverages are two huge problems right now. and a large majority of processed food (which i believe should be reduced as much as possible) fall into at least one of those categories.

  5. I LOVE the new scarves – so cute!!! What a great idea – I’ll have to check out Jenn’s post! I’m not a very DIY-er! I scrapbook, but that’s about it!

    • Sarah says:

      definitely check out jenn’s posts on it! i’m pretty much the most uncreative and un-artistic person ever and i was able to make them without messing up. you can do it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. What are your thoughts on the Weston Price/Nourishing Traditions folks that encourage saturated fat consumption? I read the Fathead blog for a bit and some of his logic made sense, but I know I personally feel better eating a plant based diet.

    • Sarah says:

      i don’t know a whole lot about the weston price foundation, but i think it makes sense in some aspects, but i really wish they had more peer-reviewed scientific support for their suggestions. i think it’s based on a lot of anecdotal evidence. a controlled study would just really help my scientist brain be able to accept it more.

      i also feel better when i eat a more plant-based diet. i hardly eat any red meat (or any meat at all), and most of my meals are vegetarian. however, i do think the current guidelines could do a better job talking about “good” saturated fats like coconut oil/butter. however, i feel portion size is so important with those fats, and we all know americans have troubles with portion distortion, so maybe approving of these fats would lead to even more problems….i don’t know. i’m rambling. to answer your question again, i wish the weston price foundation had more scientific basis for their dietary recommendations.

  7. My personal opinion is that these guidelines are great, but most of the population has no idea what they mean…I think they need to do more to promote cooking at home – with real food!
    That would take care of many of those issues. Also, they are a bit old fashioned for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah says:

      they do mention in the policy document that you should try to prepare more meals yourself. i’m really interested to see if that is one of the main recommendations that are included in the materials that will come out soon for the general public.

      i agree that they are a little old fashioned too. they’re making steps though – the 2010 recommendations have guidelines for vegan and vegetarian diets now too. it’s progress…

  8. I agree that the sodium intake seems a bit hard to achieve. It’s progress…and for that I am thankful!

  9. I like the protein variety part-just because i’m so sick of people thinking you can only get protein from chicken and dairy! They are flabergasted when they find out veggies and greens contain protein too!

    • Sarah says:

      good point! most people think meat is the only source of protein. i hope the documents to be distributed to the general public emphasize this point!

  10. Heather C says:

    You know my thoughts on the Recs ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, the advised sodium intake is always VERY low. That’s something I have an issue with too, it definitely varies for athletes/people who sweat a lot. Electrolyte balance is important! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sarah says:

      the policy document does say that sodium is a required nutrient, which is great, but i don’t think the majority of the population understands that we do need some sodium in our diets either. these recs frustrate me so much because there are little things like this that are in the policy document, but definitely won’t make it to the public. they’ll get the message that all sodium is bad and we need to limit it as much as possible!

  11. Jo says:

    Thanks for the great summary on dietary guidelines! I thought the sodium levels were a little shockingly low myself – I totally agree with lowering the amount, but it seems a little difficult for the majority of the population to stay below those sodium levels.

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