Nutrition 101


What are the Dietary Guidelines?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans give advice on what to eat and drink to better your health and prevent diseases such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. This advice is based on the latest findings in nutrition and public health research. The Guidelines are updated every 5 years by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure the most up-to-date information is made available to the public.

How do I use the Dietary Guidelines?

The Dietary Guidelines are over 160 pages long, so the USDA developed MyPlate to make them easier to understand and follow. MyPlate, pictured below, is a simple visual guide to help you create healthy, balanced meals using the five food groups. Below are some suggestions for following the MyPlate guidance. See the attached handout for recommended servings per day and suggestions for each food group!

  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. They all count! Aim to eat whole fruits and vegetables over juices when possible.
  2. Make a little more than a quarter of your plate grains. Try to eat whole grains at least half the time.
  3. Add lean protein to the remaining quarter of your plate.
  4. Include dairy in moderation. If you choose not to or are unable to eat dairy, MyPlate recommends substituting with soy milk because it contains a similar amount of protein to dairy milk.

*Note: Not all meals are eaten on a plate! You can apply this method when eating any type of meal.

Eating different foods at each meal can help you get a variety of vitamins and minerals throughout the week!

Do the guidelines recommend limiting any foods?

While the guidelines do not recommend eliminating any specific foods, they do include foods to limit. These foods include those with added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. For added sugar and saturated fat, aim to keep your intake to less than 10% of your daily calories. For sodium, try to eat 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon of table salt) or less each day.

What counts as ONE serving?

What counts as ONE serving?


Does your plate look like MyPlate? Choose one food group to increase or decrease this week to fit within the Dietary Guidelines, then set a SMART Goal. SMART stands for specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and time-bound.


SMART: I will eat one serving of fruit or vegetables with each meal.

Not SMART: I will eat more fruits and vegetables.

Post your goal where you can see it, and make a plan to follow it for one week.


Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta

Avocado Melon Smoothie


  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Start Simple with MyPlate | MyPlate. Start Simple with MyPlate. Accessed May 16, 2022.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. What is MyPlate? | MyPlate. MyPlate. Accessed May 16, 2022.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Accessed May 16, 2022.