Updated Dietary Guidelines For Americans: What Dietitians Need To Know

By Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CLT, CFCS

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released at the end of 2020 with the theme, “Make every bite count.” Updated every five years, the Dietary Guidelines tend to build on the previous set, carrying through many of the same recommendations from year to year. With the 2020-2025 Guidelines, there are two distinct differences.

 1. Taking a life stage approach. Making specific nutrition recommendations through the life stages is what dietitians already do for patients and clients on a regular basis. The Guidelines for children aged birth to 24 months had not been updated since 1985, making the updated recommendations very exciting and relevant. We also see recommendations for women who are lactating, in addition to pregnant women. And, we see clear divisions through childhood, instead of lumping children aged 2 to 18 years into one category.

There is a clear focus on foundational principles that apply to every life stage. Americans are encouraged to start these foundational habits early, even in the prenatal period, and tweak the practices as they age. Throughout the Guidelines, readers are reminded that it is never too late to begin making healthy choices, even for those who are over 60 years of age.

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2. Viewing eating patterns as a whole. The second major change, which focuses on diet patterns, comes as no surprise to dietitians. It is refreshing to continue to have the Guidelines reinforce the idea that habits and overall food intake matter, and that nutrition is more than just one nutrient, one diet, or one food group. These Guidelines take a strong focus on personalization, customization, and cultural foodways being able to be included into the Guidelines.

These Guidelines are adaptable to people at any stage of life to make diet pattern changes for their health. The recommendations even give a nod to nutritional genomics saying that diet patterns have a cumulative and possibly synergistic effect on a person’s overall health. Overall, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are refreshing, updated, and will be extremely practical for every dietitian to incorporate into patient care.

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Courtney Lee MS, RDN, CLT, CFCS has a virtual private practice specializing in personalized nutrition & anti-inflammatory diets. She loves helping people use nutrition to change their lives and enjoys empowering other RDNs to do the same! www.courtneyleerd.com.

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