Dietary Guidelines

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a tool to make healthier food and physical activity choices.

In January 2005, the Food Guide Pyramid was revised to reflect the most recent science in the field of nutrition and fitness. Here is an overview of the latest ‘Food Pyramid’.


• Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.

• Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan.


• To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.

• To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.


• Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.

• To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.

• For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.

• To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.

• To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.

• Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.


• Consume a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables while staying within energy needs. Two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day are recommended for a reference 2,000-calorie intake, with higher or lower amounts depending on the calorie level.

• Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. In particular, select from all five vegetable subgroups (dark green, orange, legumes, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables) several times a week.

• Consume 3 or more ounce-equivalents of whole-grain products per day, with the rest of the recommended grains coming from enriched or whole-grain products.  In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains.

• Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.


• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol, and keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.

• Keep total fat intake between 20 to 35 percent of calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

• When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.

• Limit intake of fats and oils high in saturated and/or trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.


• Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often.

• Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners, such as amounts suggested by the USDA Food Guide and the DASH Eating Plan.

• Reduce the incidence of dental caries by practicing good oral hygiene and consuming sugar- and starch-containing foods and beverages less frequently.


• Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 teaspoon of salt) of sodium per day.

• Choose and prepare foods with little salt. At the same time, consume potassium-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.


• Those who choose to drink alcoholic beverages should doso sensibly and in moderation—defined as the consumption of up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

• Alcoholic beverages should not be consumed by some individuals, including those who cannot restrict their alcohol intake, women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, individuals taking medications that can interact with alcohol, and those with specific medical conditions.

• Alcoholic beverages should be avoided by individuals engaging in activities that require attention, skill, or coordination, such as driving or operating machinery.


My Pyramid Plan can help you choose the foods and amounts that are right for you. For a quick estimate of what and how much you need to eat, go to http://www.MYPYRAMID.GOV/mypyramid/index.aspx and enter your information and receive a customized food guide.


The Body Mass Index (BMI)is a formula to assess a person’s body weight relative to height and can be calculated using the following formula:

(Weight in pounds ÷ Height in inches ÷ Height in inches) x 703

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is also called the Quetelet index and while it does not distinguish fat mass from lean or muscle mass, it is a very useful approximation to what one should weigh depending on height. The Body Mass Index (BMI) therefore is basically the relationship between a person’s height and weight. Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the more accurate ways to determine when extra pounds place a person into health risks and has become the measurement of choice.

The federal government has announced guidelines, which create a new definition of a healthy weight — a BMI of 24 or less. A Body Mass Index reading under 20 is considered underweight. Further, a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. Individuals who fall into the BMI range of 25 to 34.9, and have a waist size of over 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women, are considered to be at especially high risk for health problems. Higher or elevated BMI is an indication of preventable risk that should be checked regularly, just like high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

BMI Calculator


if you are exactly 5 feet or 6 feet tall, put a 0 in the inches box. The results will be wrong if you leave the inches box empty.

Enter your information to calculate your BMI:
Height: Feet – Inches – Weight: Pounds: Press the calculate button for your BMI:Your BMI:

Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or more and obesity is a BMI over 30 with 40 being severely obese.A BMI of under 20 can mean serious medical problems. Please consult a physician if your BMI is below 20

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

Note: BMI for Children and Teens is based on gender and age specific charts. Click here for the BMI training module titled “Using the BMI for Age Growth Charts” at the Center for Disease Control CDC.