Dietary Guidelines, Summarized

Here are is a summary and some excerpts from the lengthy and sometimes confusing dietary guidelines: (click on the underlined words to get more information)

    • The majority of Americans are overweight or obese and yet undernourished in several key nutrients.  So it is important to go to and determine what a healthy diet is for you.  They don’t use a pyramid anymore, but rather a “plate”. One plan doesn’t fit everyone, so this website tailors it to your needs.  However, general guidelines are listed below, for adults.  Click here for kids.
      • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.  About 60 minutes a day may be needed to prevent weight gain. Children and teenagers should be physically active for 60 minutes every day.
      • Consume two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day minimum, preferably raw (double this for leafy greens [salads]).  To make it simple, the USDA now suggests making half your plate fruits and vegetables. What counts as a cup of fruit? What counts as a cup of vegetables?
      • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.
      • Consume  6 to 8 ounces daily of grains, with at least half your grains coming from whole-grain products (unrefined/unmilled).
      • Consume 3 cups per day (~2 for children <8yrs) of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.  What counts as a cup?  Note that some experts recommend against dairy for adults.
      • Eat 5.5 to 6.5 ounces of protein from the  meat/fish/poultry/eggs/nuts/beans group.  What counts as an ounce?  Overall, consumers can safely eat at least 12 oz. of a variety of cooked seafood per week (Click here for more details about eating seafood safely, including comments on mercury content.)

The above guidelines are summarized in this chart: (click to enlarge)

New Food Pyramid from

See guidelines listed as “cups” instead of servings — click here

Other Guidelines and Concerns:

  • Americans (adults and children) eat too many calories from foods high in solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS), including sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • One-fifth of American women are obese when they become pregnant, which is bad for both mother and child.  Click here for dietary guidelines for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • Behaviors that lead to obesity include too much TV, too little physical activity, eating out frequently (especially at Fast Food Restaurants, snacking on energy-dense food and drinks, skipping breakfast, and consuming large portions.
  • A daily multivitamin/mineral supplement does NOT offer health benefits to healthy Americans, and some  supplements have been associated with harmful effects and should be pursued cautiously. [Stay with whole-food supplements, email me for what I take.]
  • Most Americans should decrease consumption of energy-dense carbohydrates, especially refined, sugar-dense sources
  • Americans should choose fiber-rich carbohydrate foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and cooked dry beans and peas as staples in the diet.
  • At present, Americans consume excessive amounts of sodium and insufficient amounts of potassium.

Helpful Links:

Personal food plan calculator : (updated 2010 Food Pyramid guidelines in a format that resembles a plate)

“How Much Are You Eating” compares guidelines to actual common portion sizes

Nutrition Action Newsletter

National Physical Activity Plan


One thought on “Dietary Guidelines, Summarized

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    September 4, 2014 at 9:20 am

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