The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), released by the USDA, encourages healthy dietary patterns at each stage of life. Healthy dietary patterns do not need to be rigid, but rather are flexible and customizable to meet a person’s traditional, personal, and cultural preferences. The Dietary Guidelines make four key recommendations, including:
Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
Feed infants human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life. When human milk is unavailable, feed infants iron-fortified infant formula. Provide supplemental vitamin D for infants shortly after birth. Right around six months, introduce infants to a variety of complementary foods, including potentially allergenic foods.
From 12 months through older adulthood, adults should follow a healthy dietary pattern, to consume an appropriate caloric intake, help maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce chronic disease risk. Food and beverage choices act in a synergistic manner, creating an effect that is greater than the sum of the individual nutrients. Read our handout for more information on healthy dietary patterns.
Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
Dietary patterns can be customizable and flexible to individual needs or preferences and can take into consideration the diverse cultures and foodways in the United States. People of all ages, races, ethnicities, and health statuses can benefit from a healthy dietary pattern.
Meet food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits.
Substitute less healthy options for options that are lower in calories and richer in nutrients. The majority of Americans consume less than the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, dairy foods and healthy oils, while exceeding the recommendations for sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. Small shifts or substitutions, such as swapping nutrient-dense foods for less-healthy options, can help move you toward a healthier dietary pattern and ultimately make a big impact on your well-being.
Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages
The guidelines recommend consuming no more than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat starting at age two. People should limit sodium intake to 2300 mg a day for those 14 and older, and even less for children younger than age 14.
In addition, they recommend limiting added sugar to no more than 10% of daily calories starting at age two, and children under age 2 should avoid foods and beverages with added sugars.
For adults of legal age who choose to drink, should drink in moderation and limit drinks to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. Drinking less is better for health than drinking more.
When making dietary changes, do so thoughtfully and slowly. Find what works for you or your family to ensure longevity and sustainability in your healthy dietary pattern and health throughout your life.