There are a variety of ways to come up with a nutritional plan. Sometimes, it involves a cycle of dieting based on activities, other times it is about finding a consistent pattern that you are willing to stick with. However, everyone is a little bit different with their specific needs, so no two diets are exactly alike. That doesn’t mean that there is no baseline for nutrition. That is why we have things like the FDA and nutrition labels on the food. From there we use it to figure out the recommended daily intake (RDI).
But the nutrition labels, without being taught how to read them, can be disorienting or a little confusing. So, how can you figure out that you are getting too much or too little for what you need? That is where the 5/20 rule comes into play. But what is the 5/20 rule and how can people read it to get the right nutrition for them?
The 5/20 Rule
The reason the current nutrition label is sectioned out with the levels of nutrients is because of what was at the beginning of the article, everyone is different with their nutritional needs. Age, gender, medical conditions are variables that involve a slight tweak in food buying habits. Most food, whether nutrient-dense or processing will have their own statistics based on their properties, and the nutrition label is supposed to show these things so that buyers can know what they are looking for.
One of the more recent ways to translate if something on the label has or doesn’t have what you need is the 5/20 rule. When people state the 5/20 rule, they are stating the range of daily value. 5% is on the low end of a value. Anything that goes above 20% would be considered on the high end.
So, say you need to decrease your intake of sodium. You pick up a can of instant soup and look at the daily value. The label reads 40% per serving. That is way too much sodium to handle, so it’s probably best to avoid the soup. Another example of reading is finding something that you do want. If you need extra vitamin C or calcium, you can probably get a better idea of how much there is on the label, also following the 5/20 rule. It allows for flexibility based on what you know about your own dietary needs.
The State of Newer Nutrition Labels
So, now that you are aware of how to read the nutrition labels, you will notice that there might be a few elements lacking on the labeling, or at least a few of them getting added in. That is because the rules behind what is involved with nutrition labels are changing. According to Insider.com, “Most Americans could benefit from eating foods with high levels of fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D — all nutrients that are starting to show up on the new nutrition labels that companies making over $10 million must implement immediately and smaller ones must roll out by 2021.”
The new regulations for the nutrition labels that included these add-ins were passed into law in 2016. It has its origins in the 1960s and while it has gone through its own changes it has, by and large, had the same concept. Letting people know what is in their food and equip them with the chance to make healthy food choices.
It is easy to track the nutrition label history, its purpose, as well as, the origins of certain diets. However, the 5/20 rule isn’t so easy to track. Why is the 5/20 rule not a common term? How long did nutritionists know them and when did this rule of thumb come from?
The Origins of the 5/20 Rule
The first mention of it online was in 2010. This is little before the USDA started to replace the food pyramid with the plate model in children’s nutrition programs in 2011. Some of the earliest sources online date back a decade on the website for the International Food Information Council Foundation. According to them, ” The FDA hosted a webcast to discuss how we should use the information on the label to guide us in making healthy, balanced dietary choices.” This falls into the timing of the youtube videos that the FDA rolled out to garner more awareness about the 5/20 rule altogether. It falls in the timeframe of the rollout of the pyramid/plate nutrition changes. That makes it safe to assume it is part of the nutrition information campaign during the Obama administration.