Every five years, the U.S. departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) release a joint report detailing nutritional guidelines for the general public. A big change you’ll see in the new guidelines is a focus on the overall eating pattern, rather than on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients.
The new version of Dietary Guidelines presents three different examples of healthy eating patterns:
- Healthy U.S.-style. Those who follow the U.S.-style healthy eating pattern and eat 2,000 calories a day have 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 6 ounces of grain, 3 cups of dairy and 5.5 ounces of protein each day.
- Healthy Mediterranean. This eating pattern offers more protein and fruits and less dairy in a daily 2,000-calorie diet. Those following the Mediterranean eating pattern eat 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2.5 cups of fruit, 6 ounces of grain, 2 cups of dairy and 6.5 ounces of protein per day.
- Healthy vegetarian. This is an eating pattern that contains no meat, poultry or seafood. The vegetarian eating pattern includes more legumes (beans and peas), soy products, whole grains, and nuts and seeds. It also only recommends 3.5 ounces of protein in a 2,000-calorie diet, which is still within the daily recommended amount.
The report emphasizes the importance of making small, gradual shifts in food and beverage choices so eating a healthy diet can feel more manageable.