Aim, build, choose for good health

September 05, 2000

Aim, build, choose for good health

Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Today, with the wide variety of foods available to tantalize our palates, it can be even more pleasurable. Eating also is an important part of maintaining our health so we can enjoy life. How can we enjoy food while taking action for good health?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2000, offer some good advice. Updated every five years since 1980, the latest version carries three basic messages:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Aim for fitness.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Build a healthy base.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose sensibly.

Labeled the "ABCs for good health," these messages are the framework for 10 guidelines that point the way to good health for children ages 2 and older and adults of any age.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2000, recommend:

Aim for fitness

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Aim for a healthy weight.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Be physically active each day.


Maintaining or improving a healthy weight has long been a part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but the emphasis on daily physical activity has never been put so strongly. Long-term changes in eating habits and physical activity are recommended for people aiming for a healthy weight.

Being physically active is also needed for good health. Aim to accumulate 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Build a healthy base

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Let the Food Guide Pyramid guide your food choices.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Keep food safe to eat.

Follow these four guidelines to build a base for healthy eating. If you let the Pyramid guide your choices, you can be assured you'll get all the nutrients your body needs each day.

Choose sensibly

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose beverages and foods that limit your intake of sugars.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Choose and prepare foods with less salt.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

These four guidelines help you make sensible choices that promote health and reduce your risk of some chronic diseases. You can enjoy all foods as part of a healthy diet. Just don't overdo it on fat - especially saturated fat - sugars, salt and alcohol. Read labels to identify foods that are high in saturated fats, sugars and salt.

Copies of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2000, booklet are available from the Consumer Information Center in Pueblo, Colo. They also can be downloaded from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's Web site at

For information, contact Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County office, at 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, Md. 21713 or by calling 301-791-1504.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County. Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

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