Get the Facts on Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate and Food Labels

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RD, CD
Get the Facts on Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate and Food Labels

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Making smart food and nutrition choices is a necessary part of daily life — but finding the best and most accurate information can be confusing. However, it is possible to develop a plan for healthy eating, and plans that emphasize a balance of foods — such as those based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans — can promote positive lifestyle changes. An understanding of what is in the food we eat is essential for developing a healthy eating style.Tweet this

Research studies and breaking news about food and nutrition appear in headlines almost every day. With so many changes, it can be difficult to tell which recommendations are based on strong scientific evidence and which are simply marketing materials. Registered dietitian nutritionists are food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are issued and updated every five years by the U.S. government and provide authoritative advice about how balanced eating patterns promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. The guidelines are jointly published by the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are developed with the substantial input of registered dietitian nutritionists.

What is MyPlate?

MyPlate is designed to help individuals follow the key recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators and the food industry to help consumers build healthier eating styles with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education and other user-friendly nutrition information. The online resources and tools can empower people to make healthier food choices for themselves, their families and their children.

Food Labels

The food label is a key tool for locating and evaluating the nutritional content of the foods and beverages you consume. Food labels provide you with:

  • Nutrition information about most packaged or processed food you'll find in a grocery store.
  • An easy-to-read Nutrition Facts panel that enables you to quickly find the information you need to make healthful food choices.
  • Information on the amount per serving of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and other nutrients of major health concern. New food labels have already started to appear on packaged foods, highlighting even more important information, such as the amount of vitamin D, potassium and added sugars. Most packaged food should have this new information available by January of 2021.
  • Nutrient reference values, expressed as % Daily Values, which help you see how a specific food fits into your overall daily diet.
  • Uniform definitions for terms that describe a food's nutrient content — such as "light," "low-fat" and "high-fiber" — to ensure that such terms mean the same for any product on which they appear.
  • Standardized serving sizes that make nutritional comparisons of similar products easier. On new labels, this information is also being printed in a larger or bold font to make it easier to find.

 Together, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPlate and food labels make it easier to eat right and find a healthful eating style that works for you.

Find an Expert

Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life.

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