From Dietary Guidelines to Behavior Change

Last fall, nutrition experts and food scientists from across the country met to discuss ways to translate the Dietary Guidelines into real behavior change for the American public.  Their findings were summarized and recently published (1).  Three key areas to target included reducing overall caloric intake to help reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity, encouraging increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains and reducing intake of foods containing added sugars, solid fats, refined grains and sodium.  There’s nothing surprising here, but perhaps the most important conclusion was the realization that these familiar nutrition messages need to be kept simple and upbeat.  Small steps that help families eat healthfully, stay active and have fun along the way can lead to long-term, meaningful behavior change.  This year, help your students and clients keep their nutrition and health goals by encouraging them to find a “wellness buddy,” a friend who can exercise with them each day or try a new, healthy recipe with them every week.  Have them set realistic weekly and monthly goals to make change a little at time, and try using fun incentives that reward progress and promote a healthy lifestyle.  Check out the websites below for great, inexpensive health and fitness prizes and reward charts.  Have a happy and healthy New Year!

(1) Rowe, S., et al. (2011). J Am Dietetic Assoc.  111(1): 28-29. 

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