How Often Should You Eat? A Look at The USDA’s New Dietary Guidelines

Category: Healthy Living


Posted on January 15, 2021

Vanessa is a health writer and blogging expert. Her specialities are medicine, health and wellness. She is proud to call Vancouver, BC her home where she enjoys the ocean and mountains with her dog Mr. ChowChow.

usda dietary guidelines

Every year, the USDA releases revised dietary guidelines. These guidelines direct the population on new food trends to watch out for, tricky wording that may show up on food packaging, and more. 

As a parent, we're sure that you're interested in these guidelines for healthy eating. They can be extremely useful when you're trying to decide what to feed your family and how to teach your children about healthy eating.

To learn more about the new USDA dietary guidelines, keep reading. We're going to cover the eight things that you should know about the 2020 USDA dietary guidelines chart.

1. Watch out for Added Sugar

The 2020 USDA dietary guidelines are giving added sugar the attention (and calling out) that it deserves. Before these new guidelines, added sugar remained a mystery. We all knew that it was bad, but we never could seem to find the difference between the added sugar and natural sugar.

Tricky wording and sneaky advertising make it more and more difficult to figure out how to read food labels. However, with the release of new food label requirements, added sugar is now a required label on foods containing it.

If you're looking to avoid added sugar (as we all should do on a normal day), all you need to do is look at the nutrition label. Here, the company should provide a section showcasing the sugar added to the product.

As a parent, you should note that the USDA has also recommended that children under two years of age should not consume any added sugar.

The fight with added sugar has been a gruesome one, especially in the United States. It seems as if the majority of the foods available to use in the grocery store have added sugars of some kind.

Be sure to take extra precautions next time you're shopping for food for your family. Foods are now clearly labeled. You shouldn't have trouble finding out which foods are going to be a better nutritional choice for your family.

2. Cut Down on the Alcohol

In the United States, alcohol has become a right of passage. With large birthday parties at the age of 21 and the prevalence of binge-drinking even before this age, alcohol seems to be everywhere.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the USDA addressed alcohol in their dietary guidelines for 2020.

The 2020 USDA dietary guidelines have revised and refined what the organization previously recommended. In the past, the USDA recommended that men drink no more than two servings of alcohol per day while women drink no more than one serving of alcohol per day.

Now, the USDA is recommending that neither men nor women exceed more than one serving of alcohol per day. With this, the organization cites the harmful effects of alcohol.

This wasn't the only change. The USDA also used to discuss the positive effects of moderate alcohol indulgence. However, this was no the case with their 2020 report.

The USDA points out that alcohol does not improve your health. They also add that complete abstinence from these drinks is the healthiest choice.

3. Replace Saturated Fats

After their previous battle with trans fat, the USDA has now moved on to battle the trend of saturated fat. While trans fat is more unhealthy than saturated fat is, there is still a healthier option that the USDA does not forget to point out.

In their 2020 dietary guidelines, the USDA recommends that Americans replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats. In particular, they recommend eating polyunsaturated fats.

During this discussion, they cite a couple of positive correlations. Firstly, a diet containing saturated fats is linked to a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease.

With heart disease being the number one killer in America, it's no surprise that the USDA has made a point to address the condition in their recommendations for healthy eating. Because of the unhealthy food trends plaguing America, the USDA has to alert consumers of the dangers of the foods that they may be eating.

Foods that contain saturated fats include butter, coconut oil, palm oil, red meat, and cheese. If you're looking to eat more unsaturated fats, you should be reaching for fish, nuts, and seeds.

Replacing these kinds of foods can dramatically decrease your risk for heart conditions like cardiovascular disease.

Food marketing has become a game of good taste over good nutrition. The USDA's mission in releasing these annual dietary guidelines is to help educate consumers on the poor trends that they need to be avoiding.

4. Planning Meals

The USDA has repeatedly been asked questions regarding how often you should be having snacks and how often you should eat to lose weight. Unfortunately, there isn't a straight answer to either of these questions. 

The USDA has tried to comment on eating quantity in the past, and they truly cannot provide a safe, healthy answer for every single American. Rather, they choose to include blanket statements that are more likely to account for healthy eating habits for most Americans rather than individuals.

In the 2020 USDA dietary guidelines, the USDA notes that diet quality was higher for those who indicated that they eat three meals a day rather than two. They also shared that eating late at night is positively correlated with overindulgence in food that is suggested to be consumed in moderation.

Basically, this means that those who snack less—especially at night—are more likely to eat more nutritious foods.

So, if you're looking to improve your diet or find a trick to choose better food choices, avoiding snacking may be the answer. Keep in mind that snacks that include nutritious foods, like carrots, lettuce, and the like, aren't dangerous by any means.

The USDA is simply pointing out that there is a correlation between snacking behaviors and poor nutrition. This doesn't mean that you need to stop eating your carrot and celery sticks in the afternoon.

5. About Breastfeeding

The USDA dietary guidelines also dove into breastfeeding and what the benefits of human milk are. Along with this discussion, the USDA cites several studies on how breastmilk affects babies.

Most notably, the USDA reported that infants who consume human milk at any point in their lives may incur several health benefits, including a decreased risk for the following conditions: type one diabetes, obesity, and asthma.

In addition, the duration of breastfeeding was negatively correlated with an increased risk for type one diabetes and asthma. This means that the longer that an infant is breastfed, the less likely they are to have one of these conditions in the future.

One of the most exciting findings from the USDA's analysis of infant diet has to do with allergies. Research shows that infants who are exposed to common food allergens are less likely to develop allergies to those foods. More specifically, they suggest feeding these common allergens (like peanuts and eggs) to your child before they reach the age of one.

Following this discussion, the USDA is quick to note that infants and children should also be exposed to a diverse range of foods while they're young. Studies show that instilling a diverse eating pattern now can encourage the child to continue that eating pattern as they age.

Encouraging and instilling these kinds of eating habits at a young age can also help fight off the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. Share new foods with your children and encourage them to go outside of their comfort zones when it comes to new, nutritious food.

6. Covering Diet Trends

The USDA dietary guidelines didn't forget to cover trendy diets that are moving across the United States. The most famous of these diets may be the keto diet.

If you have yet to hear about the keto diet, it is a low-carb, high-protein diet that focuses on getting consumers to go into a state of ketosis. Ketosis allows the body to burn fat rather than sugar. Because of this shift in the fat burning method, many people use the diet as a trigger for major weight loss.

When covering what they refer to as "dietary patterns," the USDA made it clear that they do not endorse any particular diet or diets. Rather, they discussed following a "dietary pattern" that is rich in several different kinds of nutritious foods.

Specifically, the USDA pointed out that Americans should increase their consumption of colorful fruits and vegetables while decreasing their intake of chips and desserts.

It doesn't appear that the USDA is going to cover diet trends in-depth, but many Americans are still asking for this. They want to know what diets are safe and how they should approach different kinds of eating styles.

However, the USDA may not want to make a comment about diet trends for the sake of avoiding any negative responses. The USDA does not want to make blanket comments about diets when they know that every diet may be different for every person.

7. Regarding Obesity

As most people already know, obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. Targeted food marketing and ignorant food choices have led to more than 70% of Americans becoming overweight or obese.

The USDA briefly spoke on the obesity epidemic, citing multiple research studies that may be able to help us keep the epidemic under control for the foreseeable future.

First off, the USDA states that there is a link between added sugar consumption under the age of two and the later development of obesity. Creating nutritious diet habits for children while they're young can increase the likelihood of them following those nutritious diet habits in the future.

Obesity isn't just a public health problem though. It has also been linked to numerous chronic health problems, including type two diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

The USDA was clear in recounting that parents should instill healthy eating habits early. As you're teaching your children to set the table, you should also be teaching them what food you're putting on their plate, how you made it, and why you chose it.

You should also encourage your children to get involved in their own meal planning. Let them choose what vegetable to eat for dinner every once in a while.

If you want to shake things up, you can start your own family garden.

8. Forgotten Sustainability

We're covering things that you should take away from the USDA's dietary guidelines for 2020. Unfortunately, there's something that didn't show up in the report that we need to cover: sustainable eating.

Americans have been urging the USDA and similar entities to cover sustainable eating practices and how they affect the Earth. They want to know if avoiding meat actually reducing carbon emissions among other important questions.

The USDA has yet to make a comment on sustainable eating and the impact of sustainable eating. One report that the organization filed regarding healthy eating being contingent on environmentally-resilient practices was revoked soon after it was submitted. This is a notable piece missing from their 2020 report and should tell you how neglectful the United States is being about the climate situation.

Covering sustainable foods didn't just pertain to climate change though. Americans called for the USDA to cover societal changes related to dietary recommendations.

USDA Dietary Guidelines and Pharmaceuticals 

Congratulations! You've reviewed the most important points from the 2020 USDA dietary guidelines for 2020. Now, it's time that you start filling in the gaps that you may be missing with a common prescription.

For example, your physician may have you on a prescription for hypertension or diabetes. Regardless of whether or not your diet is on par with the USDA's standards, you need to keep up with your medications. We highly recommend that you do continue to follow a proper diet while on your medications, but you shouldn't neglect your medications in favor of a diet.

If you're looking for affordable prescriptions for your chronic conditions, you can depend on PricePro Pharmacy. We are a Canadian drug store that ships to the United States. If you're looking for a specific prescription, search for medication here and see how much you can save.

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