Healthy eating patterns include dairy but more than 80% of Americans are not consuming recommended amounts. Monday, January 11 is National Milk Day, a chance to check your intake.
The Dietary Guidelines and Dairy
Dairy foods are included in the 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines as one of the food groups we should consume to meet nutrient needs. The 2020 – 2025 Dietary Guidelines maintained the plan of previous guidelines by focusing on eating patterns to promote health. In the 2020 – 2025 guidelines there are four main guidelines. The first, emphasizes the importance of establishing a healthy eating pattern at every life stage. This guideline acknowledges the difference in nutritional needs throughout life and helps consumers learn how to shift intake to meet changing needs. The first guideline provides the recommendations for infants from birth to age two, a new piece for the Dietary Guidelines. Guideline two reminds us to enjoy foods that fit our cultural, flavor preferences and economic considerations. The third guideline lists the food groups and very clearly states that we should choose nutrient-dense foods while respecting our calorie needs. Nutrient-density of our foods is the key to meeting our health and energy needs.
When It Comes to Dairy
The food group listing provides guidance on what foods are in each food group. The dairy group includes milk and products made from milk, as well as alternatives for those who cannot consume dairy milk. The reason for this grouping comes down to the aim of guideline three. The guideline says – “Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods.” Foods are in each food group because they have similar nutrients. By choosing within the group, we can feel comfortable that we will meet our nutritional needs. There are a wide variety of nutrients in the dairy group but there are nine essential nutrients. Calcium is the best known, but dairy also provides protein, phosphorus, vitamin D, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins A and B12. The amount of dairy we need varies throughout our lifespan, for easy reference, at 2000 calories, the need is 3 – 8-ounce cups per day.
Adding Dairy to Your Eating Pattern
If you are struggling to meet the recommendation it might help to look at some recipes. The National Dairy Council is a good site for recipes. As you start to change your eating pattern remember that change takes time so go slowly! Make one change at a time and you will eventually achieve the healthy eating pattern that works Best for you!
To Your Health!
Why not consider planning to add more milk or dairy to your eating pattern by getting started on Monday, January 11 – National Milk Day!
About Connie – Connie is a Registered Dietitian with extensive experience communicating in the food and nutrition space. Taking the science of food and nutrition and translating it to simple messages, new products, or exciting menus is her expertise. Making nutrition messages clear, accurate, and engaging aids all consumers.