Tips to help implement the new Dietary Guidelines |

Tips to help implement the new Dietary Guidelines

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Following the new Dietary Guidelines released by the USDA could reduce South Dakotan’s risk for major chronic diseases, explained SDSU Extension Nutrition Field Specialists and Registered Dietitians, Megan Erickson and Megan Olesen.

“There is a large body of evidence out there that shows the link between our diet and activity level and the risk of developing many chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Olesen said. “These new guidelines encourage healthy eating patterns we can all focus on and adopt which are proven to reduce these risks.”

The new Dietary Guidelines encourage healthy eating patterns like limiting intake of sugar and saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your daily calories, limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams per day and increasing physical activity.

Released every five years by the USDA, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines differ from past guidelines which were more focused on specific individual dietary components, such as food groups and nutrients – whereas the new guidelines emphasize overall eating patterns including the combination of foods and drinks that people consume daily. “Instead of telling you what you can and can’t eat, the healthy eating patterns provided within the new Dietary Guidelines provide South Dakotans with a path to improving health through nutrition,” Erickson explained.

Because eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks you eat over time; they are adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget.

“We are excited about this change since it is more realistic to achieve a healthy eating pattern that emphasizes small shifts toward a healthy lifestyle,” Erickson said.

Although change is never easy, when the result is reduced risk of chronic disease, it’s worth adopting, Olesen explained. “Research shows that about half of American adults have one or more preventable, diet-related disease. You don’t have to be one of them,” Olesen said.

To aid South Dakotans in adopting the new guidelines, the specialists put together some tips. To find complete list of guidelines, visit

Tips to reduce sugar:

1. Satisfy the craving. Try eating a piece of fresh fruit or fruit salad.

2. Swap out the pop. Select sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Water is always the best choice.

3. Moderation. Select smaller portions of your favorite desserts.

Tips to reduce salt:

1. Utilize the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium.

2. Flavor your food with fresh herbs and spices or a salt-free alternative, such as Mrs. Dash.

3. Avoid processed foods as they tend to be higher in sodium. Cooking from scratch is a great way to control the sodium content.

Tips to reduce fat:

1. Select lean cuts of meat such as a top sirloin steak.

2. Read food labels to choose foods lower in saturated fats and higher in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

3. Choose lower fat forms of foods and beverages, such as fat-free or low-fat dairy.

Tips to increase nutrient dense options:

1. Aim to make your plate half fruits and vegetables.

2. Select healthier cooking methods such as baked or roasted instead of fried and prepare foods using liquid instead of solid fats (ex: Canola oil vs. butter).

3. Read the labels to choose fresh, frozen, or canned foods without added salt or sugar.

150 minutes of physical activity

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week.

Children ages 6 to 17 years need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, including aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.

To keep South Dakota workers moving, SDSU Extension Field Specialists Tara Shafrath and Nikki Prosch developed and released Active in the Workplace a 5-part, workout video series.

“These workouts take five to 10 minutes to complete, so instead of heading to the break room for coffee in the morning or afternoon, folks who spend their days at a desk or in meetings can complete one or two of these videos to engage in physical activity for a quick break,” said Nikki Prosch, Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist.

Access the Active in the Workplace video series on the SDSU iGrow Youtube channel.

For more healthy tips, readers can visit for information on the recommended intakes for each food group based on age, sex, and activity level and for more tips on creating a healthy eating pattern.

–SDSU Extension