During National Nutrition Month® 2022: Academy Recommends Reducing Added Sugars, Sodium and Saturated Fats in Meals

February 22, 2022 

CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to "Celebrate a World of Flavors" in their meals while still eating nutritious foods and beverages during National Nutrition Month® 2022.

"Mealtime is a wonderful time to connect with your friends and family and eat a healthful mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins," said registered dietitian nutritionist Caroline Susie, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Dallas.

"The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends those 2 years and older limit added sugars and saturated fat in their foods and drinks. 

"Healthy eating does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach. One meal does not make or break a person’s health," Susie said. "It's what you do most of the time that matters. "Find creative, healthful and nutritious ways to add flavor to your meals while eating less sodium, saturated fat and added sugars."

MyPlate, which provides practical consumer-friendly tips to follow the key recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommends visualizing the plate as nutrient-rich sections with one quarter reserved for grains, another with protein-rich foods and the remaining half with fruits and vegetables along with a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy.

"You don't have to eat from each of the food groups at each meal but aim to eat from a few different food groups for a healthful mix of nutrients," Susie said. "Healthy snacks that are planned in advance can incorporate foods from the missing food groups at other times of the day."

Susie offers the following tips:

Reduce Added Sugars

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories for those 2 years and older and to avoid serving foods and beverages with added sugars to children younger than 2.

  • "Eat snacks with no added sugars. For example, flavor your low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of purchasing flavored yogurt," Susie said.
  • "Enjoy a cup of herbal tea without added sweeteners or fresh fruit as a post-dinner treat," she said.
  • Drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages by drinking water flavored with fruit.

Curb Sodium

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and less for children under 14.

  • "Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare sodium content of foods and purchase products with less sodium," Susie said.
  • Rinse canned foods or select those with no salt added. 
  • Buy fresh poultry, seafood, lean cuts of red meat and pork rather than processed meat and poultry.
  • "Flavor foods with citrus, herbs and spices instead of salt," she said.

Decrease Saturated Fats

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting consumption of saturated fat starting at age 2 to less than 10% of calories per day and replacing it with healthier unsaturated fats.

  • Use vegetable oils in place of solid fats when cooking.
  • "Eat foods that are natural sources of unsaturated fats including unsalted nuts, seeds and fatty fish such as salmon," Susie said.
  • Select lean cuts of meat or skinless poultry.
  • "Use oil-based dressing instead of creamy-based dressing on salads," she said.

"Registered dietitian nutritionists can explain how to use MyPlate to help their clients and patients meet their unique nutritional goals," Susie said.

About National Nutrition Month®

National Nutrition Month® started in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition.

The second Wednesday of March is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, an annual celebration of the dedication of RDNs as the leading advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world. This year's observance will be March 9.

As part of National Nutrition Month®, the Academy's website hosts resources to spread the message of good nutrition and the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle for all. Follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy's social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.

To find an RDN near you, visit the Academy's "Find a Nutrition Expert."

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Representing more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.