USDA issues new dietary guidelines

Berny Unruh, K-State Extension
Berny Unruh

Every five years USDA publishes the updated Dietary Guidelines. The latest version will be followed until 2025. If you are wondering what the purpose of this report is? Here is a direct quote from the publication: “This edition of the Dietary Guidelines presents overall guidance on choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages in place of less healthy choices and also discusses special nutrition considerations for individuals at each life stage.”

While many things remain the same in the guidelines, the most noticeable change is the “lifespan” approach. They have added guidelines for babies and toddlers and there are special sections for pregnancy and breastfeeding. The limits for salt, saturated fat, sugar and alcohol are somewhat simpler to understand.

Another area that was recognized and reflected is "The Dietary Guidelines is meant to be adaptable to personal preferences, cultural foodways and budgetary considerations”. It is obvious that people have different preferences for certain types of food and this was addressed. The last area that is discussed is that chronic disease is a serious issue and the importance of shifting towards a healthy diet is of utmost importance.

Overall, the four main strategies or areas of focus are:

1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.

2. Eat nutrient dense foods. Nutrient dense means the food is rich in many important nutrients but still low in calories.

3. Focus on nutrients needed and calories allotted.

4. Limit sugar, sodium, saturated fat and alcohol.

If you are interested in reading the entire report it can be found here:

If you are still in need of a calendar for the new year, we have a limited number of Healthy and Homemade 2021 Nutrition and Fitness Calendars. Stop by the Extension Office in Hays or Great Bend for these fantastic recipe ideas included in the calendar.

Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District. She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at