START THE WEEK OFF RIGHT: A dietary guide where every bite counts | Health

Will Kreznick

The foods and beverages we consume have a profound impact on our health. Since the first edition was published in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have provided science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. Every five […]

The foods and beverages we consume have a profound impact on our health. Since the first edition was published in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have provided science-based advice on what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs. Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines. Here are three important highlights from the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines:

1. Just about everyone, no matter their health status, can benefit from shifting food and beverage choices to better support healthy dietary patterns. Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a big difference to our health down the road. Start small with one or two shifts then gradually add more. Visit the Words on Wellness Blog at, go.illinois.edu/HealthyShifts for inspiration.

2. The second is a focus on dietary patterns as a whole— rather than on individual nutrients, foods, or food groups in isolation. A dietary pattern is the combination of foods and beverages we eat over time. About three-fourths of the U.S. population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils. How does yours compare?

3. The third focus is on a lifespan approach. Recommendations are provided for every life stage from infancy through older adulthood. Learn more about specific needs in each life stage by visiting, myplate.gov/life-stages. Each life stage section includes an array of resources and materials free to download. New in this edition is nutrition needs and feeding practices for infants.

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