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Everyone knows that healthy eating patterns help us to avoid chronic health problems like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes, so it should come as no surprise that the latest dietary guidelines for Americans focus heavily on the importance of long-term healthy eating patterns.
Released earlier this year by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments the guidelines are designed to help “provide a clear path for the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals and others who reach the public, to help Americans make healthy choices, informed by a thoughtful, critical, and transparent review of the scientific evidence on nutrition.”
The latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has three core focuses to help inform Americans eating choices: the need for healthy eating patterns, the value of incremental change and the need for support.
The new guidelines emphasise the importance of fostering a lifelong eating pattern that “contains adequate essential nutrients, a caloric intake that supports a healthy body weight and foods that reduce the risk of chronic disease.”
Essentially this means that we need to try and get into the habit of eating lots of fruit and veg, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, protein foods with minimal amounts of saturated fats and cut down on added sugars. But, the trick is being consistent.
By focusing on making small improvements over a long time, as opposed to revolutionising your diet overnight, eating healthy becomes way more doable.
Developing a healthy eating pattern is a long term venture and with so many choices to make every single day about what to fuel our minds and bodies, each meal presents a chance for change. Start by making small changes like replacing refined-flour bread with whole-grain bread, sneaking more veggies into your diet or moving from full cream milk to skim.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For those of us looking to change our food consumption patterns we need to realise that we’re not alone. As Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Karen DeSalvo states, “everyone has a role to play in encouraging easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices at home, school, work, and in the community.”
Reducing our intake of artificial sugars, sodium and saturate fats is hard, but there are nutrition programs and healthy eating support mechanisms out there to help us with your journey.