New government dietary guidelines may require altering habits

Feb 03, 2011 By Neil Schoenherr

Are you looking to make the government’s new dietary recommendations part of your life? Begin by writing down what you eat, says a nutrition expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

“As a registered dietitian, the first thing I’d recommend is to take a look at where you are right now,” says Connie Diekman, director of University Nutrition. “Keep a food record for three or four days and see how much sodium and fat you really are consuming.”

The U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health & Human Services this week released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for America. The guidelines call for more fruits and vegetables, less sodium and more whole grain, as well as more exercise for all Americans.

“These aren’t drastic changes from the government’s 2005 report, but there are some very strong messages that consumers need to hear,” Diekman says.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Connie Diekman, RD, director of University Nutrition, says writing down what you eat is a good first step to following the government's new 2010 Dietary Guidlines for America. Video: WUSL

The first is that we should consume more plant foods. Those include fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“The evidence here is strong,” says Diekman, who is a past president of the American Dietetic Association. “We need to increase fruits and vegetables and choose at least half of our daily grain as whole grain. This is how you stay healthy.”

Another key indicator in the report is that American consumption of sodium continues to be very high.

“This new report says we should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day,” Diekman says. “However, if you have hypertension or diabetes, if you are over the age of 51 or if you’re African American, which, if you add up all four of those constitutes more than 50 percent of the population, then you should be shooting for 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. That is less than a teaspoon.”

Diekman says many people don’t even realize they are consuming too much sodium.

“I do think we need to make some changes in our intake,” she says. “The evidence is clear. However, it’s going to be a hard challenge for people to get to 1,500 when we’re currently at 3,400.”

Diekman suggests that reducing salt in food equates to a palette change. “Either cook with salt or put it on the table, don’t do both,” she says. “Also, reduce the amount of processed or packaged foods you eat. Really begin to examine how much salt you’re getting in your diet.”

Explore further: Income is a major driver of avoidable hospitalizations across New Jersey

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Modern society made up of all types

Nov 04, 2010

Modern society has an intense interest in classifying people into ‘types’, according to a University of Melbourne Cultural Historian, leading to potentially catastrophic life-changing outcomes for those typed – ...

Recommended for you

Older adults are at risk of financial abuse

4 hours ago

Nearly one in every twenty elderly American adults is being financially exploited – often by their own family members. This burgeoning public health crisis especially affects poor and black people. It merits the scrutiny ...

Medical internet could transform health care

4 hours ago

The medical Internet is not yet here, but the widespread availability of electronic medical records and enhanced data-storage capabilities are pushing it closer to reality. As now envisioned, this new cyberspace ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Beard
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
If it didn't run, fly, swim or sprout; don't eat it.