Dietary Guidelines Decoded

Earlier this year the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services released the 8th edition of the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This 200+ page document includes a wealth of information, and thanks to PHA partner Morrison Healthcare we’re here to bring you the highlights. Because who really has that kind of time?!
Decode the dietary guidelines with quick tips from research and development chef, Heidi DeCosmo, and corporate executive chef and manager of health and wellness for Morrison Healthcare, RJ Harvey, RDN, CEC, CRC
PHA: The 2015 Dietary Guidelines are all about encouraging healthy eating patterns. For those working to maintain a balanced diet, what do you think is one of the most important things to remember?
One easy way to begin updating your eating patterns is to start one day and meal at a time by incorporating a serving of vegetables into every meal. At breakfast, add sautéed spinach to an omelet, at lunch, choose a side salad in place of French fries, at snack time, grab some hummus and carrots, and at dinner start by adding vegetables to your plate first. These simple options add 5 servings of vegetables to your day.

PHA Day of Meals2

PHA: Stocking a kitchen right is the first step to success. Any recommendations for those looking to eat well on a budget?
Up your grocery shopping game by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store first and then heading to the center lanes for kitchen staples like olive oil vinegar and whole grains. Also shop seasonally to find lower prices by opting for produce that is in season and for other fruits and veggies, head to the canned and frozen aisles.
PHA: What is the most challenging aspect of creating meals that adhere to the Dietary Guidelines, and how have you overcome those challenges in the kitchen/supermarket/restaurant?
In the Dietary Guidelines, the focus is to ensure meals are created with balance in mind, including protein, vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low fat dairy at each meal. Many times this can be overwhelming when we think about meal options, prep and grocery shopping. When planning meals at home start by keeping the meals simple. Try one healthy step per week and gradually lifestyle changes will occur.
For starters, map out your favorite fruits and vegetables and build your meals around them. For example: whole wheat flatbread pizza can be loaded with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, artichokes and fresh herbs. Try a burger on a whole wheat sandwich thin topped with lettuce, tomato, grilled zucchini and yellow squash served with a side of asparagus “fries.”
When shopping, source out convenient and healthy options that save you time and encourage healthy choices. For example: quick cook brown rice, pre chopped or sliced vegetables (fresh or frozen), portioned hot breakfast cereals (oatmeal), Greek low fat yogurts, cottage cheese and hardboiled eggs. When we have these items on hand it makes preparing meals faster and also allows for eating healthy when on the go.
Love to eat out? Before heading to the restaurant try to review the menu and map out healthier options. If you see an entrée that looks great but want healthier side options, ask the server for suggestions, such as brown rice, steamed vegetables or salad options. If the portions are large, ask the server for a container and pack up ½ of the entrée before you dig in.

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