Guide: New Recommendations for Families from the USDA Dietary Guidelines
The new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans were recently released and we’ll break down what exactly these guidelines mean for families.
What are the USDA Dietary Guidelines?
The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans are a set of recommendations that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) develop to promote overall health, help prevent long term disease and encourage better nutrition choices. The Dietary Guidelines also provide the basis for federal nutrition programs and nutrition recommendations from health care providers.
How are the USDA Dietary Guidelines Formed?
The USDA Dietary Guidelines are informed by a group of experts, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, to review nutrition research and science. After careful review, the Committee provides recommendations for the guidelines in their scientific report. For the first time ever, the Committee’s scientific report was provided for public review and public comments were encouraged to help inform the Guidelines.
What do the USDA Dietary Guidelines Recommend for Families?
Here are the 5 key takeaways for families from the USDA Dietary Guidelines:
- Introduce allergenic foods for all infants - Supported by landmark research on food allergy prevention, the new guidelines recommend that parents “introduce infants to potentially allergenic foods along with other complementary foods.” The guidelines further establish that introducing allergenic foods like peanut will help reduce the risk of your infant developing a food allergy.
- Breastfeed for the first 6 months - The new guidelines recommend to “feed infants human milk for the first 6 months, if possible” because breastfeeding provides nutrients that help support growth and development.
- No added sugar for infants - For children under 24 months, it is recommended to avoid any food and beverages with added sugars. This is because “infants and young children have virtually no room in their diet for added sugars.” In addition, a child’s taste preferences are being developed in these early years and added sugars will alter a child’s preferences to very sweet foods and/or beverages.
- Limit alcohol - For men, alcoholic beverages should be limited to 2 drinks or less per day and for women, limited to 1 drink or less per day. These recommendations are supported by evidence that indicates a higher risk of death in addition to several other conditions, including liver disease, associated with higher levels of alcohol intake.
- Diversify their plate - It is recommended for parents to “encourage a variety of foods from all food groups to infants starting at about 6 months old.” A diverse diet will help encourage healthy eating, and foster a future of nutrition and healthy choices.
Learn more from Board Certified Allergist and Chief Allergist for Ready, Set, Food! on the new USDA Guidelines recommending early allergen introduction:
For Caregivers: Following the USDA Guidelines on Early Allergen Introduction
The new USDA Guidelines recommend that all babies be fed allergenic foods to help prevent food allergies. However, following these new guidelines on early allergen introduction can be overwhelming for families and caregivers. Here are three tips for following these new guidelines so that caregivers can help prevent food allergies for their child:
- Start Early: The new USDA Guidelines recommend to introduce allergens starting at 4-6 months. “There is no evidence that delaying introduction of allergenic foods...helps to prevent food allergy.” In fact, the landmark Learning Early about Peanut (LEAP) study revealed that delaying allergen introduction can put your child at a higher risk for developing food allergies.
- Choose the Best Time for Baby: Choose a time that’s best for your child. Introducing allergens is safe but to put caregivers at ease, it’s best to choose a time when a caregiver can monitor your child for 2+ hours after feeding, when baby is healthy and when baby is at home.
- Don’t Give Up!: Many caregivers struggle with introducing all of the most common allergenic foods to their baby, especially those with picky eaters. But it’s important to not give up. Introducing allergens once is just as important as continuing regular exposure to allergenic foods for several months.
Ready, Set, Food!: Makes it Easy to Follow the New USDA Guidelines
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