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National Restaurant Association - Dietary guidelines encourage healthful eating habits

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Dietary guidelines encourage healthful eating habits

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released today by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, promote what the agencies call “small, doable shifts” in daily eating habits to curb obesity and diet-related diseases.

The federal government updates its nutrition advice every five years. The guidelines provide advice on food and beverage consumption and help drive federal nutrition policy in such areas as school lunches and nutrition labeling.

The NRA engaged extensively with regulatory agencies and others as the agencies developed the new guidelines. The NRA advocated for policies based on sound science and that recognize restaurants’ role in providing Americans with a range of healthful options and choices.

The agencies acknowledged that food products and menus evolved in the past few decades in response to consumer demand and public health concerns. They suggested continued evolvement by modifying menus and offering a variety of nutritious food and portion sizes that align with guidelines.

Across the board, restaurants of all types and sizes have been offering more healthful food choices. NRA research shows that 85 percent of American adults say there are more healthy options at restaurants compared to just two years ago.

Restaurants have taken the lead in providing healthy kids meals through the NRA’s Kids LiveWell program and in providing consumers with information to make informed choices. The NRA advocated for a uniform national menu-labeling standard, and restaurateurs continue to work with the Food and Drug Administration to prepare for that standard.

The restaurant industry has made great strides in offering an increased variety of beverage options that reflect the dietary guideline recommendations, including water, juice and milk. Restaurants also continue to develop and offer lower-sodium menu options. The industry looks forward to continue supporting consumers with options that can help meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendations, the NRA says.

The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services said they looked at healthy eating patterns as a whole, rather than focusing on individual nutrients or foods in isolation, when developing the guidelines. This time, the guidelines focus on the totality of the diet, allowing people to choose the diet right for them, the agencies say.

 “A healthy eating pattern is not a rigid prescription, but rather, an adaptable framework in which individuals can enjoy foods that meet their personal, cultural, and traditional preferences and fit within their budget,” the agencies say.

They fit their extensive recommendations under five overarching guidelines:

  •  Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all, including a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruit, grain, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meat and other protein, and oil, while limiting saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium.

At least half the grains Americans consume should be whole grain, the guidelines suggest.

This is the first edition of the dietary guidelines to recommend a quantitative limit on consumption of added sugar. They encourage people to consume less than 10 percent of calories a day from added sugar and less than 10 percent of calories a day from saturated fat.

Get more details on the dietary guidelines.

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