A Gluten-free Take on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee report is out.  And for the first time in the history of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendations are based on addressing an overweight/obese population in lieu of a healthy one.  Here’s what they call for. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued every five years.  The committee, composed if 13 nutrition experts, drafts a series of dietary recommendations based on current needs and the scientific evidence to date.  It is an important set of recommendations in that it is considered by the United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services for releasing the new national dietary guidelines later this year, updating the Food Guide Pyramid, which is scheduled for Spring 2011, and determining the nutrition standards for the federal government nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

The 2010 committee’s recommendations focus on increasing the nutrient density of the foods we eat and balancing calories in with calories out.  Specifically, they encourage Americans to:

  • Reduce prevalence of overweight and obesity by decreasing total calorie intake and increasing physical activity
  • Shift to a more plant-based diet by increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, while consuming only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs
  • Increase intake of seafood and low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products
  • Reduce intake of added sugars, solid fats, refined grains and sodium
  • Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

These are guidelines we should all follow, whether gluten-free or not.  If you do eat gluten-free, I recommend the following:

  • while the guidelines call for increasing consumption of low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, many gluten-sensitive individuals cannot tolerate dairy.  If you are milk/dairy-sensitive, it’s okay to keep these items out of your diet.  You can obtain the nutrients they provide from other foods.  Calcium-rich, non-dairy foods include: almonds, green leafty vegetables, figs, black beans, calcium-fortified orange juice and salmon
  • when choosing gluten-free grain-based products, select items that are minimally processed.  The gluten-free food industry is wonderful, providing us with choices we couldn’t imagine even just five years ago.  Many of these options, however, are highly refined and provide little nutrition, which goes against the nutrient-dense theme of the guidelines.  Stick with WHOLE grain options made with brown rice, corn, quinoa, teff, nuts and seeds and free from preservatives and/or artificial ingredients

2 responses to “A Gluten-free Take on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

  1. I think this is definitely a step in the right direction.
    While there are more items I would love to see changed, it’s refreshing that they are addressing the obesity problem.
    Now, if we could get rid of cigarettes and sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) sweetened beverages…and get PE back into schools…
    Thanks for the summary!

    • I’m glad you liked the summary. What I didn’t mention is that these new guidelines will also be taken into consideration for the (hopeful) passage of the 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. Two bills are currently in Congress to dramatically improve school food nutrition standards and, most importantly, provide more money to the cost of each school meal, which will go a long way towards serving healthier food in schools.

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