The New Dietary Guidelines
The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services just released the newest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Updated every five years, the 2010 guidelines emphasize minimizing processed food, getting more fruits and vegetables, and increasing physical activity.
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How to follow the new dietary guidelines
But it's not that hard to make a few simple changes that will greatly improve overall diet quality, suggests Dr. Gaesser.
Add rather than subtract from your diet
"I try to encourage people to focus on things they can add to their diet, rather than on things to cut," says the doctor. "The word 'fiber' appears 96 times in the guidelines report. There is a reason for that." This means adding whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are great sources of fiber and regularly linked to better health and weight control.
Sneak fiber into your everyday meals
Dr. Gaesser recommends choosing a few fiber-rich foods that can easily be added to your diet. Eat an apple when you get home from work, snack on raw vegetables and hummus, grate carrots into sauces and chilies, and make sure there is color on your plate from vegetables at every meal. Starting your day with high-fiber cereal topped with fruit is another easy way to get whole-grains, fruit and fiber without many calories, Dr. Gaesser suggests.
Eat out less
Dr. Gaesser recommends limiting your restaurant visits, since restaurant portions are notoriously large and often contain more sodium and fat than you think (or need).
When you grocery shop, make sure the majority of what you buy is fresh, not processed. The more colorful, the better!
Spice up your meals
Try to season foods with fresh or dried herbs and spices rather than reaching for the salt shaker.
Get your good fats
Fat isn't the enemy, but focus on good fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado) versus the kind you get in a fast food meal (saturated).
Experiment in the kitchen
Cooking healthy meals doesn't have to be daunting. You can make a lot of great means with minimal ingredients such as whole wheat pasta, fresh spinach, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
More ways to improve your diet
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