Translating the DGAs to Your Plate
The DGAs emphasize that it’s never too late to start eating better and urge us to “make every bite count” with four core recommendations.
1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
A dietary pattern is the total of what you eat and drink. To create one, eat a variety of these nutrient-dense foods and beverages from all of the food groups:
- Vegetables of all types
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, plus lactose-free or fortified soy beverages and yogurts
- Protein, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; nuts, seeds, and soy products
- Oils, including vegetable oils and oils in food such as seafood and nuts
2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense foods and beverages.
The Guidelines provide a framework that can be adapted to reflect your individual health and lifestyle needs, unique food preferences, cultural and family traditions, and budgetary constraints.
3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.
Nutrient-dense foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting components with little or no added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
4. Limit foods and beverages that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, as well as alcoholic beverages.
Many of us exceed the daily recommendations for sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar, which can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems. While you don’t have to eliminate them completely, it is necessary to make sensible choices and opt for nutrient-dense foods first. When it comes to alcohol, women are advised to limit to one drink a day and men to two drinks a day.
MyPlate is a visual tool that can help bring the DGAs to life on your plate. It recommends filling one-half of the plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of the plate with starches, and one-quarter of the plate with a protein. Include a portion of low-fat or nonfat dairy milk, soymilk, or yogurt with your meal.