Tired of hearing which foods you shouldn’t eat? There is good news from the new Dietary Guidelines. In response to the growing concern over America’s obesity crisis, the new Dietary Guidelines recommend that calories be obtained from nutrient-rich foods.
Based on a scientific body of research, the guidelines suggest that the best diet for long-term weight management, and overall health, is one that includes more nutrient-rich power foods that Americans know and love, such as nonfat and low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables.
Many Americans eat too few low-calorie whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and continue to eat large portions, which leads to increased calorie consumption and weight gain. The release of the new guidelines means there are good, practical and easy-to-follow Guidelines for healthy eating.
Tips for following the Guidelines
- Start your day with breakfast – make sure your breakfast cereal is whole grain
- Add a glass of low-fat milk to lunch
- Satisfy your hunger for a snack with apple slices, string cheese or yogurt
- Update a sandwich by adding grated carrots
- Add a serving of broccoli or steamed veggies for dinner
- When eating out, swap french fries for a serving of plain vegetables or a salad – even fast food restaurants now offer this option!
If you want to lose weight, you need to cut the calories you take in and boost the calories you burn through physical activity. According to the Guidelines, the easiest way to prevent gradual weight gain over time is to make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity to 60-90 minutes each day.
Calcium, it’s just the beginning
For the first time in 25 years, the government recommends more dairy. Research shows that when cutting calories to lose weight, 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt each day actually help people burn more fat and lose more weight than just cutting calories alone. The mix of nutrients found in dairy foods, especially calcium, may be responsible for helping the body break down and burn fat.
The value of sleep
Be sure to get enough sleep! A separate 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that overweight patients slept less than normal weight patients. The exact reason for this is unknown but the findings show that an extra twenty minutes of sleep per night seems to be associated with a lower body mass index (BMI).
Practical weight management tips
- Set realistic goals – For example, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day to start and increase the amount over time.
- Be patient – Good nutrition benefits you from the inside out. You may not see rapid weight loss right away but the positive effects of a balanced diet on your health are immediate.
- Don’t skip meals – Skipping meals leads to overeating and makes you more likely to choose a less healthy, impulse snack later.
- Enjoy your favorite foods – You don’t have to completely give up your favorite foods to eat healthy. You just have to pay attention to how often and how much of them you eat.
A more balanced diet and adequate sleep, coupled with physical activity, provide the foundation for all-around, lasting health!