Make Every Bite Count with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Taylor Lucas, MRH Dietetic Intern

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) was just released in late December with the slogan “Make Every Bite Count.” The most notable change is implementing nutritional guidance for every life stage from birth through older adulthood, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Each of these life stages has different nutritional requirements to promote overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. The life stages include:

  • Birth - 23 months

  • Ages 2 - 18 years

  • Ages 19 - 59 years

  • Ages 60 years and older

  • Pregnant/breastfeeding women

This edition is the first edition to provide dietary recommendations for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

What are some of the key recommendations for these groups?

  • From birth to 6 months, feed infants breastmilk only. An iron-fortified formula should be provided if breastmilk is not available. Supplemental Vitamin D should be provided.

  • At six months of age, complementary foods may be introduced if the infant shows signs of readiness. Check out the USDA WIC Works resource on introducing solid foods.

  • Avoid feeding infants honey, which can contain Clostridium botulinum and unpasteurized foods.

  • Toddlers should be fed nutrient-dense foods from all food groups in balanced portions. The guidelines also have tips for picky eaters.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin based on their doctor’s recommendation in addition to following a nutrient-dense, balanced diet. Alcohol should be avoided, and caffeine should be limited.

In addition to nutrition through the lifespan, the 2020-2025 DGA emphasizes how to eat healthy on a budget, incorporates the importance of a healthful dietary pattern at each life stage, and recognizes America’s increasing ethnic diversity by integrating cultural and personal preferences. As always, the DGA are based on the most current scientific evidence.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 still encourage that 85% of your total daily calories consist of nutrient-dense foods and drinks while leaving 15% of your calories to be filled with your favorite foods, including added sugars and saturated fats if desired. The DGA recommends limiting the following:

  • Added sugars < 10% of calories per day (Avoided completely for children younger than 2 years)

  • Saturated Fat < 10% of calories per day

  • Sodium < 2,300 mg per day (less for children younger than 14 years)

  • Alcohol is limited to ≤ 2 drinks per day for men and ≤ 1 drink per day for women. (Avoided completely for those under the legal drinking age and women who are pregnant)

Check out these helpful resources provided by the USDA and DGA for more:

Healthy Eating on a Budget | MyPlate

Customizing the Dietary Guidelines Framework

MyPlate Plan | MyPlate

Recipes | MyPlate

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