The 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released to the public on December 29, 2020. These guidelines are updated every five years. Panels of nutritional scientists and researchers meet to review the latest nutrition research on how to keep Americans healthy — what foods and nutrients do we need to eat. Their reports then undergo scrutiny by anyone who wants to make a public comment. (This amounted to more than 62,000 comments!) After all the comments are considered, a policy report is released to the public. The report is important because it dictates how government funds are allocated and spent, especially for food programs. As expected, one of the conclusions state that Americans don’t eat enough fruit. And this, unfortunately, is often true at our house. Although we always have fresh fruit around; sometimes it gets skipped. When I make a “Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl,” the fresh fruit seems to quickly disappear. Here’s a little more about the Dietary Guidelines and also how I make my fruit bowl.
What’s New in Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are released every five years jointly by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These recommendations are based on the previous five year guidelines. It follows that many of the recommendations are similar or the same. For example, limiting alcoholic beverages for men to two drinks a day and women to one drink a day remains the same. Limiting sugars to 10% of calories continues the same, and focusing on whole wheat grains, fruits, vegetables and limiting red meats continues the same.
This five-year period, the report uses the theme, “Make Every Bite Count,” stressing getting nutrition from nutrient-dense foods. The overall guidelines follow these key common-sense principles:
- Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
- Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
- Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
- Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.
“MyPlate” Meal Plans
And translating that into something more concrete… Basically, these guidelines state that half your plate should consist of vegetables and fruits. The remining half plate should consist of whole grains, protein and dairy foods. That is alot of fruits and vegetables!
The USDA has developed a “MyPlate” visual system showing food group targets – what and how much to eat within calorie allowances for each age group. The visual representation of the guidelines is much easier to follow. The references include several sources describing the “MyPlate” system.
Two of the more interesting new points in the report are:
- It is now recommended that infants and children should be introduced to eggs and peanut-containing foods during the first year of life. The guidelines specifically note that “introducing peanut-containing foods in the first year reduces the risk” of later developing an allergy to peanuts, and adds that there is “no evidence that delaying” the introduction of allergenic foods can help prevent food allergy.
- Dietary recommendations are now broken by life stages since it is recognized that nutritional needs differ according to ages group. For example, Infants, toddlers, teenagers, pregnant women, adults and the elderly all have their own customized recommendations.
What didn’t make it into the report.
I was also interested in some of the comments from other physician and scientific groups which didn’t necessarily make it into the final report such as, “The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.” One recommendation that this group was touting is to make water the preferred beverage of choice and limiting milk. This is because many ethnic groups have lactose tolerance to milk — and the nutrients in milk can be obtained by eating other beans, green vegetables and grains. They were also encouraging plant-based diets; avoiding eating red meat and processed meat and not to limit consumption of carbohydrates. (https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-programs-policies/2020-2025-dietary-guidelines)
Regarding fruits, the report says that:
Regarding fruits, the Dietary Guidelines Report states that 80% of Americans don’t eat enough fruit. The fruit group includes whole fruits and 100% fruit juice, Whole fruits include fresh, canned, frozen and dried forms. At least half of the recommended amount of fruit should come from whole fruit, rather than 100% fruit juice.
Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl
My response to help us eat more fruits at our house is to make a “Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl.” This is an adaptable recipe and is easy to change depending on which fruits are available on our kitchen counter. While we may not eat “just a piece of fruit,” somehow cutting up the fresh fruit and adding a simple dressing seems to greatly increase the appeal of the fruit.
Any fresh fruit (or canned fruit) can be added to the fruit bowl. I cut up the fruit into bite-sized pieces and add a dressing made of crushed pineapple mixed with whipped topping and yogurt. If you don’t like crushed pineapple, substitute canned, unsweetened mandarin oranges and juice. In place of yogurt/and or whipped topping, use some sour cream. However, after discovering Chobani Fat-Free Yogurt, I plan to use it regularly.
To make this recipe, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Then fold in the chopped fruit. I usually add one cup of each type of chopped fruit. This time I used fresh grapes, bananas, oranges and apple. Let chill until you are ready to eat it as a snack or part of the meal.
Here’s my “Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl.” Let’s start this year by making a resolution to eat healthy! And you can download the entire 164 page Dietary Guidelines for Americans yourself!
Kitchen-Counter Fresh Fruit Bowl
- 1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple with juice
- 1 (5.3 oz) container Colbani Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt
- 1/2 cup Cool Whipped topping, defrosted
- 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
- 2 oranges, peeled, seeded and sectioned
- 1 cup seedless grapes, rinsed and removed from vine
- 1 cup apple, chopped (about 1/2 apple)
Method and Steps:
- Combine crushed pineapple and juice, yogurt in large bowl. Use spatula to fold in whipped topping.
- Add fresh fruit to bowl and carefully toss to combine.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.