What Nutrition Guidelines does Healthy For Life Meals Follow?
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
With so many confusing headlines and advice about nutrition, it’s hard to know what sources you can trust to give you the most evidence-backed nutrition information. One day, the media may report that dark chocolate is a superfood, only to claim the opposite and advise avoiding it completely the very next week.
Nutrition is a relatively young science, and researchers continue to discover new and important information about food and diet almost every week. This is why you see so many contradictory headlines about nutrition and food.
That being said, there are several concepts about how diet impacts health that have been backed by decades of research. This kind of nutrition information, that has years and years of science behind it, is what shapes the recommendations that expert organizations provide.
Examples of well-known nutrition suggestions supported by science include eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, getting most of your grains from whole grain sources, and limiting consumption of highly processed foods with added sugars and/or trans fats. Eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods and limiting fast and fried foods are evidence-based guidelines endorsed by nutrition experts everywhere.
At Healthy For Life Meals, we believe in providing meals that meet well-established nutrition guidelines. The recommendations set forth by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association shape what we serve. In other words, there are decades of science behind our menus!
As a result, our meals are made from fresh ingredients, and are designed to be nutritionally complete with the optimal distribution of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean proteins. We believe that these balanced meals, made with real, whole foods, can help you lose weight and prevent disease. And that isn’t just our opinion!
This post gives you a detailed look into the guidelines that Healthy For Life Meals follows, and how our meals reflect them.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is one of the most respected organizations in the field of nutrition. AND is made up of thousands of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDs/RDNs) and represented by nutrition experts who work to inform and provide the most evidence-based recommendations.
AND’s recommendations are largely based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS).
Here is a summary of the main suggestions in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (1):
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins.
Limit added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats.
Do not consume more than 2300 mg a day of sodium.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.
The American Heart Association
As the leading authority on preventing and managing heart disease in the United States, the American Heart Association (AHA) offers up-to-date nutrition recommendations that are backed by science. Their guidelines are focused on improving both heart health and general wellbeing.
Some of their main suggestions include (2):
Do not eat more calories than you burn.
Eat a variety of healthful foods from all food groups, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean poultry and fish, and nuts and legumes.
Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Do not consume more than 2300 mg a day of sodium. Aim for 1500 mg of sodium if you have high blood pressure.
Drink alcohol in moderation.
The American Diabetes Association
The mission of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is to provide information and resources that can help prevent and manage diabetes. The ADA’s nutrition guidelines are evidence-based and beneficial for individuals with diabetes, as well as the general population.
The ADA recommends treating diabetes with an individualized approach, but also offers suggestions for preventing and managing the disease that can apply to the larger population. These include (3):
Consume carbohydrates from mostly vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and dairy products.
Consume fat from mostly mono- and polyunsaturated sources, and limit saturated and trans fats.
Limit or avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
Do not consume more than 2300 mg a day of sodium.
Additional Nutrition Recommendations
Most nutrition experts also endorse the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) set forth by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. These ranges are evidence-based and suggest how much of a person’s daily calorie intake should come from protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
The recommended AMDRs for the three macronutrients are as follows (4):
Carbohydrates: 45 to 65% of calories
Protein: 10 to 35% of calories
Lipids: 20 to 35% of calories
How We Implement Nutrition Guidelines into Our Meals
Healthy For Life Meals is committed to providing meals that meet the most up-to-date nutrition guidelines. Our menus are loaded with a variety of nutritious foods and contain the optimal distribution of macronutrients.
We pride ourselves on following the recommendations of the AND, AHA, and ADA so that we can provide meals that promote weight loss and general wellbeing, as well as benefit those with heart disease or diabetes.
Here are some examples of how we implement nutrition guidelines from trusted experts into our meals:
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean proteins. Our meals are loaded with whole plant foods, low fat dairy, and lean proteins from poultry, turkey, and fish. Some delicious examples include our Chicken Broccoli Bake with Harvest Salad and Greek Yogurt, Southwest Chopped Salad, and Cherry Oatmeal with Almonds.
Limit added sugars and saturated fats. Our meals contain minimal added sugars and no artificial sweeteners. Fruits and other sources of natural sugars are used in menu items such as our Baked Cinnamon French Toast with Fruit Compote and Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffin.
Limit saturated fat and avoid trans fats. Healthy For Life Meals are low in saturated fat and contain zero grams of trans fats. You will never find hydrogenated oils or other hidden sources of trans fat on our nutrition labels. Most of the fat in our meals comes from heart healthy mono- or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Some of our tasty meals with healthy fats include our Pecan and Golden Raisin Granola with Greek Yogurt and our Blueberry Oat Seed Chia Muffin.
Consume no more than 2300 mg a day of sodium. Healthy For Life Meals are sodium-controlled. The average amount of sodium per day for each menu is: 1446 mg in our 1200 calorie traditional plan; 2300 mg in our 2000 calorie traditional plan; and 1801 mg in our 1500 calorie vegetarian plan. With meals as delicious as our Beef Sloppy Joe on Baked Potato and Turkey Pot Roast with Roasted Vegetables, you won’t even miss that salt shaker!
Consume 45 to 65% of daily calories from carbohydrates, 10 to 35% from protein, and 20 to 35% from fat. All of our menus meet these guidelines. For example, our 1200 calorie traditional plan has 51% of calories from carbohydrates, 22% of calories from protein, and 27% of calories from fat. Our meals are always balanced to include all three macronutrients, so that you feel satisfied and energized!
We pride ourselves on providing delicious meals that are developed with years of science in mind. With Healthy For Life Meals, you can feel confident that you are enjoying food that promotes nutrition and wellbeing.
Note from Healthy For Life Meals: Want to start eating healthy for life, instead of getting sucked into the latest fad diet or quick-fix program? Get started with one of our menus today. We develop our meals based on the most up-to-date nutrition recommendations, and provide clean, whole, real foods that promote nutrition and weight loss.