Dietary Guidelines

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The idea of good health is changing. It's no longer simply a matter of the types of foods we eat. That's why the United States Department of Agriculture has developed new set guidelines for a healthy lifestyle. It's called MyPyramid. And that's because it emphasizes that we're all different, and we all need to find our own way to get healthy and stay healthy.

You'll notice that MyPyramid also features an activity component, which is symbolized by the stairway. The new guidelines recommend physical activity most days of the week to maintain a healthy bodyweight, with additional activity to achieve a sustained weight loss.

Generally, MyPyramid emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which represent three of the five sections. Another section is lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. And fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products comprise a fifth section. Fats are not part of MyPyramid, and should be limited to those from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. You should strictly limit saturated fats, transfats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.

Moderation is key. The wider base of MyPyramid represents foods with little or no solid fats or added sugars. The narrow top stands for foods that do contain fats and sugars. If you are active, you may indulge yourself with more of these foods. The important thing is to personalize your approach to a healthy lifestyle. You can visit MyPyramid.gov to find out the amounts of food that's just right for you.

The important thing when you're making a lifestyle change is to do it gradually. For example, try low-fat milk on your cereal first. Then try non-fat. Take small steps and you'll achieve more over the long run.