Five Components for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating Patterns

The USDA releases an updated nutrition and healthy eating guide every five years. At the core of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is eating patterns and the relationship with food and nutrients. The individual goal for this work is to adhere to eating patterns that promote health and prevent chronic disease across a lifespan.

The healthy eating patterns recommended in this 8th edition were developed by integrating findings from systematic reviews of scientific research. In addition, food pattern modeling, and analyses of current intake of the U.S. population were also looked at. The evidence shows that “healthy eating
patterns are associated with positive health outcomes.”

Healthy Eating Pattern Defined

According to the authors of this DGA report, “healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight. It can also help prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout periods of growth and development.” An eating pattern represents all the foods and beverages you consume. All foods consumed as part of a healthy eating pattern fit together like a puzzle to meet nutritional needs without exceeding limits. This is especially true in regard to saturated fats, added sugars, sodium, and total calories.

The Five Components Needed

  • Follow a Healthy Eating Pattern Across the Lifespan. A healthy eating pattern includes plenty of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and oils. It limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  • Focus on Variety, Nutrient Density, and Amount. Meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
  • Limit Calories from Added Sugars and Saturated Fats and Reduce Sodium Intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
  • Shift to Healthier Food and Beverage Choices. Replace typical food and beverage choices with more nutrient-dense options. Be sure to consider personal preferences to maintain shifts over time.
  • Support Healthy Eating Patterns for All. Each one of us can play a major role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings around us. This includes from home to school to work to our communities.

Final Notes on Eating Healthy

A healthy eating pattern, or style, includes the following:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups (dark green, red and orange, legumes, and starches).
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit.
  • Grains, half of which are whole grains.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits the following:

  • Limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. A number of studies have shown an association between increased intake of trans fats and an increase risk of CVD.
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Eat less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
  • Limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).
  • Moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz cups/day or providing up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be part of healthy eating patterns.

Avoid the Halo Effect

This refers to someone who eats healthy foods but goes overboard on portion sizes. As a result, they end up consuming too many calories for the day. Try the following: protein should be the size of your smartphone, all carbs should be the size of your fist, and fruits and veggies should cover the rest of your plate. This is an easy way to visualize what a healthy meal looks like. Also, you’ve heard, the the more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you’ll be eating.

Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Go Hand-in-Hand.

In addition to having a healthy eating style or pattern, we all need to also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall health. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) and should perform strength training on 2 or more days each week, using the Jefit app to plan, log, track and share your workouts. Stay strong!

Reference

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, 8th Edition. USDA: DietaryGuidelines.gov

Results Are Best When You Plan & Track Workouts

Jefit for iOS Android and Web

According to a 2017 report from IQVIA Institute for Human Data Sciences, there were 318,000 mobile health apps three years ago. That number is expected to top 400,000 apps this year. The growth rate will be 15% reaching 31 billion in revenue by the end of 2020. The question is, can all this technology help get better results if you use it to plan and track workouts?

People hire trainers or coaches because they invariably know they will work harder with them versus doing it alone. Working harder typically means lifting more weight in training sessions and being more consistent with workouts. In turn, results are more significant and goals are met more often. There is actually a name for this, its called the Hawthorne Effect, or observer effect. The basic definition is “the alteration of behavior by the subjects of a study due to their awareness of being observed.” When you know you’re being watched or you have to regularly check-in and record your data, you do better.

There is a trickle down effect from working with a coach to using specific technology, like an exercise app. Writing things down and planning shows ownership, you don’t “own it” until you write it down …or record it. Those who plan and track workouts do better than people who don’t track their workouts. A great example of this is a high-level athlete who works with their coach over a four-year period to prepare for the Olympic games.

People Who Use Apps Are More Confident & Exercise More Consistently

A survey reported in Elliptical Reviews looked at the exercise habits of nearly a 1,000 people. The results were pretty favorable regarding the benefit of using an exercise app. The results showed 55% of subjects used an exercise app prior to the study. All app users reported more consistent workouts and they were more confident when they worked out. In the survey, 73% of women and 66% of men were more confident when they were using a workout app.

The survey also showed 40% of people who use fitness apps workout five or more days per week. The survey found only 4.9% of non-app users exercise every day, compared to 7% of people who used an app.

Using an App Can Increase Physical Activity

The Journal of Medical Internet Research, makes the case that those who use exercise apps are more likely to exercise during their free time than those who don’t use an app.

“The study concludes that exercise apps may be improving exercise levels and health outcomes by making it easier for users to overcome barriers to exercise, such as lack of ready access to information, lack of interest and motivation, and lack of access to exercise facilities, etc.”

Shiva Gopal Reddy, M.Sc.

Research from the University of South Australia showed promising results with smartphone apps. They called apps “a promising tool for delivering accessible and appealing physical activity interventions.” The goal of this systematic review by Romeo and colleagues tried to determine the “effectiveness of smartphone apps for increasing objectively measured physical activity in adults.” The review looked at nine different research studies that met all of the researchers’ criteria, totaling 1740 subjects. This review reported an increase in physical activity in subjects who used apps for a minimum of 3 months.

Jefit App Plans and Tracks Workouts

The Jefit app, won multiple awards in 2020 including best app by PC Magazine. The Jefit app is used to plan and track workouts. It comes with a customizable workout planner, an extensive exercise library, and a members-only Facebook group. You can choose new workouts and track your progress with the app. It keeps you on track to see how close you are to reaching your fitness goals. The app includes 1300 exercises, more than 3800 strength training workouts, 9 million registered users and 10 million downloads to date.

Jefit for iOS Android and Web