The Food Pyramid and Calorie Needs
The food pyramid designed by the FDA is a guide for eating the correct amount of each food group. There are seven major food groups: Grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, and sweets/ fats.
The Grains group consists of carbohydrates, an excellent source of energy. Carbohydrates by themselves are not fattening and provide B vitamins, minerals and fibers. The best carbohydrates are whole- grain foods because they provide maximum fiber and minerals. So select brown rice and whole wheat bread instead of white bread and rice. The Grain group of the food pyramid consists of bread, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. The recommended number of servings of grain is between 6 to eleven servings a day . A serving is equivalent to: 1 slice of bread 1 ounce dry cereal ½ cup pasta or rice
The Fruit group and the Vegetable group are very similar. Both contain essential vitamins and minerals that are important for our bodies to grow and function. The Fruit group contains a lot of vitamin C while the Vegetable group contains vitamin A and C. For vegetables, select dark leafy greens, deep yellow and orange vegetables, and starchy vegetables such as yams and potatoes for maximum nutrients. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than frozen because they contain more vitamins and less or no preservatives, plus they taste much better!! The recommended daily serving for vegetables is 3-5. One serving equals: 1 cup raw leafy greens ½ cup other veggies chopped ¾ cup vegetable juice
The recommended daily serving for fruits is 3. A serving is: 1 medium apple, banana, orange 1 melon wedge ½ cup chopped fruit or berries ¾ cup fruit juice (but be careful, often sugar is added)
The Dairy group is rich in calcium, a mineral which is essential for healthy bones. The dairy group also provides protein for vegetarians and non- vegetarians alike. The dairy group consists of milk, yogurt and cheese. Choosing low- fat dairy items keeps calories, fat, and cholesterol to a minimum. The food pyramid suggests eating between 2 to 4 servings a day. A serving is equal to: 1 cup milk or yogurt 1 ½ ounces of cheese
The Meat group is rich in protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Protein is very important for maintaining healthy muscles, tendons, bones, skin, hair, blood, and internal organs. The Meat group is the main source of protein so it is very important to eat enough food from this group. Vegetarians can also enjoy this food group by eating nuts, tofu (made from soybeans), and beans. Other foods in the Meat group are all types of animal meat, fish, and eggs. The recommended number of servings of the Meat group is 2-3. A serving is: 2- 3 ounces of lean animal meat or fish 1 egg ½ cup cooked beans 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds
The Fats and Sweets group contains no vitamins or minerals and should therefore be eaten sparingly. It is important to keep sugar to a minimum because it is stripped of any vitamins or minerals, and left are just plain calories. To limit sugar in your diet: Be aware of hidden sugars in foods such as flavored yogurt and canned foods. Check the label for ingredients ending in “–ose”. Examples- dextrose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose Limit foods which list sugar among first few ingredients Choose cereals which contain 6grams or less of sugar Eat fruit instead of sugary desserts Artificial sweeteners do reduce calories but are potentially dangerous to your health. Some may cause cancer and the long term effects are not known, so use in moderation. It is important to know that certain fats are worse than others. Saturated fats (contained in butter, cream, oils) can be linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Instead, choose monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil. This type of fat may reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and may even protect against some forms of cancer.
A important aspect of nutrition is caloric intake. A calorie is simply a way of measuring the amount of energy in food. Certain foods have more calories than others. One gram of protein or carbohydrate contains 4 calories while one gram of fat contains 9 calories. That is why a diet high in fat may lead to weight gain. The amount of calories and fat in food can be found in the nutrition facts. The amount of other nutrients, minerals, and vitamins are also listed. When reading nutrition facts, it is important to consider the serving size written at the top of the label. In addition, some people can and should eat more calories without gaining weight. The amount of calories a person burns depends on their sex, age, activity level, and metabolism. Teenagers need the more calories than any other age group, and boys typically require more calories than girls. Most teen girls require 2,200 calories per day. But with more activity, more calories are burned. Teenage boys require about 2,600calories a day.