The Food and Health Guide to Making Every Bite Count

 
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The recently released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) encourage us to “Make Every Bite Count” for a healthy life, both now and as we age.

As you saw in the post Make Every Bite Count!, most Americans struggle with some aspect of healthful, balanced eating. As obesity rates and levels of chronic disease continue to increase, this problem can feel so huge that it's hard to tell where to start.

That's what this roundup is for. Below, you'll find a bunch of accessible, simple, and straightforward tips to help your clients build the eating patterns that work best for them. Pick and choose from the options you see for what will meet the needs of your audience...

Our Tips to “Make Every Bite Count”

  • Include fruits and/or vegetables with every meal and snack, aiming for a variety of different colors throughout the week.
    • For example, add blueberries and a banana to cereal for breakfast.
    • Pile a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
    • Enjoy grapes with lunch.
    • Include both a salad and cooked vegetables with dinner.
    • Choose carrots with hummus or an apple for snacks.
  • Look for crackers, bread, pasta, rice, and cereal with the word "whole" used to describe the first ingredient.
  • Choose foods that are less processed by using these strategies:
    • Read the ingredient list and choose foods with ingredients that you can pronounce and visualize.
      • For example, crackers that contain just whole wheat and salt are preferable to crackers made with enriched flour, vegetable oil, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, lactic acid, and disodium inosinate.
    • Use fresh foods that you prepare yourself.
      • This could look like putting peanut butter on a slice of whole grain wheat bread instead of buying peanut butter crackers or an energy bar.
      • You could also try using an air-fryer to prepare chicken instead of  making frozen breaded chicken strips.
      • Preparing your foods yourself will also help you reduce your sodium consumption, since pre-packaged foods and restaurant foods contain higher levels of sodium than what you'd make at home.
  • Enjoy foods that reflect your cultural heritage or help you explore other cultures.
    • My family background is northern European and that includes a variety of ways to prepare potatoes, yet I live in the Southwest and enjoy regional foods such as enchiladas and avocado that I never ate as a child.
  • Use less sugar in the foods and beverages you prepare at home.
    • For example, you might make a favorite dessert with half of the sugar in the recipe, or enjoy coffee or tea without added sweeteners.
  • Choose more fruit and fewer sweet desserts such as cookies, cakes, candy and pastry.
  • Make unflavored water your primary beverage.
  • Read food labels for sodium content and choose foods with less sodium.
    • For example, my husband switched from regular V8 to low sodium V8.
  • Eat fewer foods that are higher in saturated fat
  • These foods include hamburgers, tacos, burritos, deli lunch meats (except for turkey and chicken), commercially-made desserts and sweet snacks, full-fat dairy products and cheese, palm oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil and foods that are made with these oils.

Where will your clients start?

By Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDE, CPT, CHWC

References:

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Make Every Bite Count: USDA, HHS Release Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/12/29/make-every-bite-count-usda-hhs-release-dietary-guidelines-americans published 12-29-2020; accessed 1-13-21.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf published December 2020. Accessed 1-13-21
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