Eat Well, Exercise Well, Be Well: Dietary and Fitness Guidelines
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Since the 1980s, the United States government has published healthy living guidelines every 5 years. They are research-backed diet and physical activity recommendations. The goal is to lower the risk of health problems linked to poor diet and activity, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Here are the latest key recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Obesity has been linked to many health problems. It is important to maintain ideal body weight by controlling total calorie intake. A person trying to lose weight will need to burn more calories than they take in. This means getting plenty of exercise and cutting down on foods that are high in calories.
The number of calories a person takes in depends on many things, such as age, gender, height, weight, and activity level. To keep calories under control, a person will want to focus on eating foods full of many nutrients, such as potassium, fiber, vitamin D, and calcium. A doctor or dietitian can help a person put together a plan that meets their needs. Other tips are:
Foods to Enjoy
Foods to Limit
Prepare Your Plate
It can be hard to remember which foods to limit and which foods to eat. To help, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) made a simple image of a sectioned plate to use as a guide for healthy eating. The Choose My Plate guidelines focus on nutrient-dense foods and drinks, such as veggies, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat milk, beans, and nuts. Keep these tips in mind about how much and what to eat:
Diet and exercise must go together. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of activity each week. Brisk walking, biking, and swimming are good choices. A person should check with their doctor before starting any program.
Living a healthy lifestyle takes hard work and a good attitude. Doctors, dietitians, and personal trainers can help keep a person motivated and on track to reach health goals.
A healthy lifestyle should also be fun. Add some fun to workouts by taking a hike, going for a walk with coworkers, or playing a pick-up game of basketball with a neighbor. Another idea is to get creative in the kitchen. Herbs and spices can help add flavor, for example. Getting friends and family to help cook can also add to the fun. Armed with guidance, support, and motivation, a healthy lifestyle is within reach!
Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
Dietary considerations for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed August 24, 2020.
What is MyPlate? US Department of Agriculture ChooseMyPlate website. Available at: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/WhatIsMyPlate. Accessed August 24, 2020.
2015-2020 Dietary guidelines for Americans. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed August 24, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 3/2/2021
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