Your Road Map to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines

By Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., "America's New Food Rules," May/June 2011

6 easy rules that could help you live a longer and healthier life.

1. Stop Eating Too Much

For the first time in their 31-year history, the Dietary Guidelines are speaking to a nation where the majority of us are now overweight. That's why the Dietary Guidelines tell Americans to "enjoy your food, but eat less." "The biggest difference from the last guidelines issued in 2005 is the new focus on calories," says Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and member of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can lead to better blood pressure, a decreased risk of diabetes and improved lipid levels (lower triglycerides and higher "good" HDL). "At the end of the day, weight loss all boils down to one thing: calories in and calories out," Slavin says.

For most of us, calories aren't even on our radar: according to a 2010 survey conducted by the International Food Information Council, only 12 percent of Americans know how many calories they need in a day. Do you? To calculate the calories you need to maintain your weight using this equation: your current weight (in pounds) × 12. If you subtract 500 calories per day from this number, you’ll shed about a pound a week; trim 1,000 calories and you’ll lose two pounds a week. Don’t go below 1,200 calories or you risk missing out on important nutrients.

Easy ways to trim portions and slash calories: use smaller, salad-size plates; order an appetizer and a salad instead of an entree; cook at home, where you’re apt to stick with more reasonable portions; wrap up leftovers right after you serve yourself so you can't go back for seconds.

Related Link: 30-Minute, Low-Calorie Dinner Recipes

Next: Go for More Fruits and Vegetables »

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner