What Do the New USDA Dietary Guidelines Mean For Me?

Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases updated dietary guidelines. In the past, these guidelines have been showcased through different food pyramids and MyPlate. The 2020-2025 guidelines are tagged with “Make Every Bite Count.” This means choosing nutrient dense foods and drinks while staying mindful of your total calorie intake. 

So what does this mean for you? For the first time, the USDA dietary guidelines include eating at different life stages and customizing food choices to better align with personal and cultural preferences. Based on input from the 20 member Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, the newest guidelines recommend:

  • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older and to avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers;
  • Limit saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2;
  • Limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than 14);
  • Limit alcoholic beverages (if consumed) to 2 drinks or less a day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women.

To put the new guidelines into perspective, let’s implement them to an average diet of 2,000 calories per day: 

  • Added sugars compose no more than 200 calories per day, or 50 grams per day. That is equivalent to two glasses of chocolate milk. 
  • Saturated fat is limited to 200 calories per day, or about 22 grams per day. This is equivalent to one fast food cheeseburger. 
  • Limiting sodium comes from preparing your own meals, rinsing canned vegetables, and limiting prepared (i.e. fast food) and processed (i.e. chips, crackers, lunch meats). 

The guidelines have had a few amendments, but one thing remains true: eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy while limiting added sugars, processed foods, trans- and saturated fat, and excess sodium has the best effect on health outcomes. Changes do not need to be made all at once, but incorporating healthy habits every day leads to long term success. If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate healthy eating habits every day, check out this guide from the USDA. 

Wondering how to implement these new healthy eating guidelines into your family’s dinner table? We can help! At incentaHEALTH, each of our meal plans are designed with the USDA’s dietary patterns in mind and feature nutrient dense foods to help support your optimal health as the end goal. Our members receive a daily meal plan complete with a weekly shopping list, making it easier to start improving your nutrition one meal at a time. 

Home: Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/