2010 Dietary Guidelines Release: Do you care?

By Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, CSSD

The release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a hot topic in the world of food and nutrition – the world I live in.  Strangely, it was on my mind so much that I had a dream the other night that I was asked to do a TV segment to discuss ice cream and how it fits with the guidelines.  (Apparently, it does, because in my dream, I scooped perfectly portioned balls of ice cream for the studio audience – weird, I know).  Well, I just finished watching the announcement from the USDA and HHS and I was wondering if anyone else cares about these guidelines.  Did you take the day off to find out what they say and reorganize your kitchen and pantry?  The thing is, I was so looking forward to hearing these experts tell us something useful…something we can easily implement…give us an “ah-ha” moment for a better diet and lifestyle.

Unfortunately, like my TV spot on ice cream, that was just a dream.  The “new” guidelines appear to provide us the same vague, scientifically supported advice.  Eat less.  Maintain a healthy body weight.  Move more.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Consumer less saturated fat, salt and sugar.  Drink water.  Pick low fat dairy.  Make half your grains whole.  And then they provide some numbers like, consume less than 10% of your total calories from saturated fat; less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day; 2300 mg of sodium or less, but if you’re over 51, go for 1500 mg of sodium or less.  From the perspective of the general population (not living in the world of food and nutrition – rather living in the world of accounting, technology, motherhood or something more common), I still don’t know what to have for dinner.

So, I just printed out the 94 page Dietary Guidelines for Americans document.  I’ll read it because it’s part of my job.  But I’m wondering, during your busy day, will you waste some paper and drain your ink cartridge to print it?  Will you study it to find nuggets of nutrition advice to help improve your lifestyle?  After two years of deliberation, did these experts produce guidelines that are useful and helpful to you?

Maybe I’m just being a dietitian Debbie Downer.  Maybe they will surprise us and come out with a thrilling Coca-Cola like campaign that helps us apply these life-changing directives.

In the meantime, eat less and I guess my dream may have the most helpful advice:  you can eat it, but control your portion size…ice cream included.

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