We’re all different, and our food choices are shaped by the things that make each of us unique! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and health, but you can personalize your plate for healthful eating.
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating pattern includes a variety of foods from all food groups. Each food group provides unique nutrients and avoiding a group could cause nutritional gaps that impact your health. For example, if you’re lactose intolerant, you may be avoiding dairy foods, but dairy provides essential nutrients, like calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, which people of all ages need for the growth and maintenance of stronger bodies.
If you’re lactose intolerant, personalize your plate by choosing aged cheeses, like cheddar or Parmesan, which contain nearly no lactose. Try fermented dairy foods, like yogurt or kefir, which contain beneficial bacteria that help you digest lactose. Or choose lactose-free milk–real cow’s milk, just without the lactose!
“Plant-based” meals are trending, and as a Registered Dietitian, I am thrilled people are aiming to include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in their diets. If you’re limiting your meat intake, low-fat dairy foods are a great way to ensure you’re still getting high-quality protein. Just one 8-ounce serving of milk provides 8 grams of protein! And pairing plant-based foods with dairy creates a superfood power couple, providing all four nutrients missing in most American diets.
Look to the Dietary Guidelines for advice on how to personalize children’s plates, too. The fundamentals of nutrition are remarkably consistent across life stages, but each stage also has specific nutrition considerations. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important nutrients at any age, but are especially important during the bone-building years of childhood and adolescence. Dairy foods provide calcium and are fortified with vitamin D. Ensuring your child is getting the recommended servings of dairy based on their age is an easy way to ensure your child is building healthy bones in those crucial years.
Everyone is different, and a lot of factors affect our food choices. Reach out to a Registered Dietitian for guidance on personalizing your plate.