Eating Healthy by Food Group

Cheryl Zielke
Healthy Eating Plan
Healthy Popular Snacks

In today's rush to get everything done, from paying the bills to picking up the gallon of milk, orchestrating a healthy eating plan may not be as easy as you think. Indeed, there are many factors that comprise a healthful dietary intake, and here at LovetoKnow Diet you can find the necessary steps to enjoy a lifetime of good eats in a "nutshell".

Basics of a Healthy Eating Plan

  1. Choose a healthy breakfast. Without fuel in your engines (aka cells), your body will not run at its best.
  2. Eat lunch and supper, too.
  3. Balance each meal with an appropriate amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, and unsaturated fat.

Along with these three basic rules, you must identify your daily calorie needs. In so doing, you will be able to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, which is vital to disease prevention, longevity, and overall well-being. For example, did you know that there is a direct correlation between increases in body weight and elevation of blood pressure? Similarly, being just 10 percent over your appropriate weight range is a major risk factor for diabetes and certain cancers. Conversely, underweight individuals, such as those suffering from anorexia, are faced with severe health risks as well. Indeed, a healthy eating plan must address calorie intake in relation to weight as one of its primary outcomes.

The Macronutrients

Protein, complex carbohydrates, and fats are the three macronutrients that provide energy for our body. Keep in mind that the amounts of each macronutrient is directly proportioned to the total calories per day. A basic guideline for healthy eating is to obtain 20 percent of calories from protein, 50 percent of calories from complex carbohydrates, and 30 percent of calories from fats, with no more than 10 percent of those calories from saturated fats. For a more accurate depiction of your specific requirements, check out the Food Pyramid.

The Food Groups

A healthy eating plan incorporates variety, as well as the proper balance of food. The Food Guide Pyramid is based on five food groups, while there are three groups of macronutrients. Since macronutrients are often combinations of food groups, it is often easier to view your healthy eating plan in terms of servings from each food group. The following guidelines will help:

1 SERVING OF PROTEIN=

  • 2 - 3 ounces cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (equals about 4 oz. raw)
  • 2 - 3 ounces lean sliced turkey and other deli meats
  • 2 - 3 ounces water-packed tuna or salmon
  • 1 egg (count as 1 ounce meat)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (count as 1 ounce of meat)
  • ½ cup cooked kidney beans and other legumes (count as 1 ounce of meat)
  • 1/3 cup nuts (count as 1 ounce of meat)
  • 4 ounces tofu (count as 1 ounce of meat)

Total servings per day should equal 3 servings for adult females to up to 6 servings for children over 6 years old and males.

1 SERVING OF FRUIT=

  • ½ cup chopped fruit
  • 1 medium size whole fruit
  • ½ cup fruit juice

Total servings per day should equal 2 servings for adult females and up to 4 servings for children over 6 years old and males.

1 SERVING OF VEGETABLE:

  • ½ cup raw or cooked chopped vegetables
  • 1 cup green leafy vegetables
  • ¾ cup vegetable juice

Total servings per day should equal at least 5 servings for all ages, regardless of total calorie requirement.

1 SERVING OF GRAIN=

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • ½ cup cooked rice, preferably brown
  • ½ cup cooked pasta, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 ounce of cereal
  • ½ bagel or English muffin (2 ounces)
  • 1 (6") tortilla
  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal or similar hot cereal
  • ½ cup cooked barley, quinoa, millet, or similar whole grain
  • 3 -4 small crackers
  • 1 (4") pancake or waffle

Total servings per day should equal 6 servings for adult females and up 11 servings for children over 6 years old and males.

1 SERVING OF DAIRY=

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup dry milk
  • 1 ½ ounces of unprocessed cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella)
  • 2 ounces processed cheese (American)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese

Total servings per day should equal 2-3 servings for adults, and up to 4 servings for children.

The Question of Fats

While the importance of unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are being realized as part of good health, the food guide pyramid advises to choose foods high in fat sparingly. These include baked goods, salad dressings, butter, cream, and the like. However, for a healthy eating plan, selecting unsaturated fats from canola oil and olive oil, as well as the natural fats found in nuts, seeds, and avocados will provide a healthy dose for vitamin absorption, cell activity, and energy when kept at 2 - 3 servings per day. One serving of healthy fat equals 1 tablespoon of oil, ¼ cup nuts or seeds, and about ¼ of an avocado.

Children ages 4 - 6 will want similar balance, but with fewer servings. Specifically, 6 grain servings, 2 protein servings, 3 vegetable servings, 2 fruit servings and 2 fat servings are adequate amounts for a healthy eating plan in this age group.

Summary

A healthy eating plan will include sufficient fluid intake, preferably from pure water. Avoiding empty calories from soft drinks, cookies, cakes, and candy also play a significant role in healthful eating. It is important to remember, however, that being too restrictive is not necessarily beneficial if it leads to uncontrollable binging when the stakes are down. For this reason, one of the most important pieces of a healthy eating plan to remember is everything in moderation.

Eating Healthy by Food Group