Eat this! Don’t eat that! It can be a challenge knowing what to eat. It can also be disheartening to know that your favorite foods are frowned upon by health experts. The good news is that many experts believe eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to involve giving up all of your favorite foods or mistreating the environment. In fact, you may find yourself jumping for joy when you read these facts about the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
- They take the work out of eating healthy. The Dietary Guidelines focus on foods that help manage weight, promote health and prevent disease. Experts in several organizations review the latest research to put together this report every five years. Unless you enjoy pouring over scientific journals every night, you should be happy there is a group keeping track of what’s good and what’s not.
- They’re open for review. In February 2015, the working committee released the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. This report was open for review and received a large volume of comments from experts and the general public. This review process guarantees a thorough review of the materials, and ensures special interests don’t take center stage.
- They consider the earth’s health, too. While the 2015 report includes much of what you already know – for example, eat more fruits and vegetables – it also includes some new information. Registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Connie Diekman says, “The mention of sustainability is new. No previous guidelines addressed it.” Sustainability addresses the ecological, social and economic aspects of agriculture, such as producing food without depleting environmental resources.
- They don’t tell you to completely eliminate your favorite foods. The advisory report says moderate caffeine and alcohol use are okay, but they do address a concern about mixing high levels of caffeine with alcoholic beverages. Regarding fats, dietary cholesterol is no longer a ‘nutrient of concern’ because there is no evidence that it causes heart disease. The guidelines states: “Rather than focusing purely on reduction, emphasis should be on replacement and shifts in food intake and eating patterns.” The report encourages the food industry to continue reformulating their foods to improve their nutrition.
Food manufacturers have been changing formulations to keep up with consumer demands. For example, many have replaced trans fats with non-GMO and naturally trans fat free Malaysian sustainable palm oil, and also reduced sugar and sodium content.