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By: Haley Singer, Undergraduate Student in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publish a new set of Dietary Guidelines for Americans based on the latest scientific evidence. This set of guidelines helps Americans understand what to eat to live healthfully and reduce their disease risk. The latest dietary guidelines were published with the tagline “Make Every Bite Count.” Here is how the USDA recommends you do so.1

The Four Guidelines

  1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
  2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
  3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.
  4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.

Current Eating Trends

Americans’ current eating trends show that most people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables and overeating sodium and saturated fat. How do we help Americans make every bite count? The USDA published these three additional principles to help Americans navigate this concept.1


  1. Most of the foods you eat should come from the following categories: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, or protein. This makes for a nutrient-dense diet.
  2. You should choose a variety of options from each category listed above. You can do this by choosing different colored fruits and vegetables to help you get an array of vitamins and minerals. Open yourself up to trying new foods!
  3. Pay close attention to portion size. Avoid filling your plate with too much food, and try to eat mindfully. By paying attention to how you feel when you eat can help you avoid overeating and feeling stuffed.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans is Nutrition for every Life Stage

Another central theme we can see from the newly published Dietary Guidelines for Americans is nutrition for every life stage. There are recommendations for every step, from lactating mothers and infants to older adults. We can see, for example, that they recommend for infants to avoid added sugar altogether. After age two, it is recommended to limit it to less than 10% of daily calories. For example, if you consume 2,000 calories a day, that would be about 200 calories or 50 grams of added sugar per day. For reference, one 12 oz can of cola has about 39 grams of sugar.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans bottom line:

To achieve lifelong health from infancy to late adulthood, make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


  1. S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at

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