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Indiana Dietician: Nutrition Standards Need to be Realistic

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Dieticians say preparing meals at home makes it easier to keep track of added sugars, fats and sodium in your diet. (Adobe Stock)
Dieticians say preparing meals at home makes it easier to keep track of added sugars, fats and sodium in your diet. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
December 31, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its new dietary guidelines for the next five years, which experts say can help people select the best foods to eat to promote better health.

For the first time, the guidelines offer dietary recommendations based on various life stages, as well as advice for pregnant and lactating women.

However, the agency is seeing some criticism for not tightening the limits on alcohol and added sugars.

Garrett Swisher, a dietician at Indiana University Health, said the current guidelines limit sugar intake to fewer than 10% of calories per day.

"It's lower than what the average American is consuming in their diet," noted. "Everyone knows that sugars are something they need to reduce. I think there's been a push to lower it even more, but also, you need to look at it as far as what's realistic and practical for people to actually reach."

The guidelines recommend saturated fats make up fewer than 10% of calories a day, and sodium be limited to less than 2,300 milligrams, or one teaspoon, a day. For alcohol intake, men are advised to consume no more than two drinks daily, and women, no more than one.

One in three Indiana adults is considered obese. Swisher asserted the dietary guidelines are important in making food choices, especially for anyone overweight or with health conditions like diabetes.

He noted one of the easiest ways to improve nutrition is to cut back on convenience foods and dining out.

"People are going to be eating better if they do prepare meals at home," Swisher contended. "You're going to be saving a lot of calories that way; you're going to be more than likely reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, and also the amount of fat and sodium as well."

He said Hoosiers can have faith the guidelines are developed with a great deal of research and advice from scientists from across the country.

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