2,000-Calorie Diet

Fresh is best!

Sticking to a 2000 calorie diet means cutting down on your caloric intake. This type of diet is effective, safe, and allows you to choose foods by serving sizes as well as types of foods to consume. Increase your chance of success by eating a variety of foods that are healthy and well balanced. Use the Food and Drug Administration's MyPlate guide for serving sizes and rotate foods to help you stay on track. Keep in mind when reading food labels that serving suggestions are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Take the time to understand how to read food labels before you shop. This article will help you understand what foods are recommended, provide easy measuring tips, sample menus, and healthy eating tips.

FDA's Food Pyramid

What's Changed?

The old FDA pyramid suggested grains up to eleven servings per day, and vegetables and fruits up to five servings per day. Three servings of meats and beans were recommended along with three servings of milk per day. The old diet from the FDA told us to use oil sparingly or not at all, the new one tells us six teaspoons is safe. The ratio of meats to grains has doubled where fruits and vegetable servings have decreased.

2000 Calorie Diet Recommendations
Foods Old New
Grains 6-11 servings 6 ounces
Vegetables 3.5 servings 2.5 cups
Fruits 2-4 servings 2 cups
Meat & Beans 2-3 servings 5.5 ounces
Milk 2-3 servings 3 cups
Oils use sparingly 6 teaspoons

The Simple Way to Measure Foods

If you don't have a food scale at home, following recommended portions can be tough. When measuring foods, make sure you get the right amount by using these guidelines:

  • Fruits = size of a baseball
  • One-half cup veggies = bulb part of the light bulb
  • Cereal and grains = standard teacup
  • Pasta and rice = cupped palm
  • Meat, chicken or fish = size of woman's palm
  • Beans = bulb part of the light bulb
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter = size of one walnut shell
  • Milk = standard yogurt container
  • Salad dressings = one-half of walnut shell

Create Your Own and Mix it Up

Mix up your food choices so you don't get bored. Eating the same foods day after day will make your palate unhappy. Below are some meal solutions you can use to start and then mix it up for variety. Any combination of these breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner menus is 2000 calories. Challenge yourself to find and eat healthy foods by creating recipes that are low in fat and higher in whole grains, beans, fish, and rice.


  • Toast with jam and a cereal bar
  • Oatmeal with skim milk topped with blueberries or strawberries
  • Whole grain cereals; buy in bulk and create your own
  • Plain yogurt with fruit and glass of juice
  • Hard boiled egg and fruit cup


  • Baked potato with black beans
  • Low-fat turkey sandwich; use whole grain roll
  • Green salad with hard-boiled egg and low fat dressing
  • Tuna fish mixed with tablespoon of low fat mayonnaise and whole wheat crackers
  • Spinach salad with fruits, corn, and nuts


  • Raw veggies like carrots, red or yellow peppers
  • Popcorn without the butter
  • Trail mix or granola bar
  • Two whole grain bread sticks
  • Fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges


  • Fresh fish with rice
  • Chicken or turkey with plain baked potato
  • Soy burger topped with low-fat cheese on whole grain bun
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Leafy green salads with low fat dressing

Healthy Eating Tips

Sticking to any diet includes reading food labels. Food manufacturers are now required to list fats, saturated fats and even let consumers know if a product is gluten-free for people allergic to wheat. Good tips to remember are:

  • Eat more whole grains - whole grains contain all three parts of grain including the inner germ, the middle endosperm, and the outer bran covering. Choose whole grains like brown rice, corn, rolled oats, and whole-wheat grain or flour.
  • Limit your sugar intake - Sugar is back; avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Lower trans fats - Fast food burgers, vegetable cooking oil, donuts and pastries are foods to avoid.
  • Limit saturated fats - Lower your cheese, cream, butter, and animal fats such as lard or fatty meat.
  • Eat or cook with monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats - MUFAs mean eating more nuts including peanuts, walnuts, almonds and using canola or olive oil. Consume more fish, soy products and use sunflower oil to gain needed Omega 3's and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Have a cheat day - Choose a different day each week and designate it as a cheat day. Have a chocolate bar for a snack or use non-low fat cheese on your soy burger. Use butter on a baked potato or add a small portion of cheese. Eat some tortilla chips with salsa or have some pretzels.
  • Think fresh - Fresh foods are best; avoid processed foods.
  • Water - Don't forget the water! The dieters who have the best results drink plenty of water and skip the diet soda.
  • Grocery shop smart - When at the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store and skip the aisles. The perimeter will have the freshest fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, and fish.

Will You Lose Weight?

Most sensible diets do work, but some nutritionists warn that age, gender, and your genes can affect your metabolism. A diet alone is not enough and it should include exercise. Take walks, ride your bicycle or join a gym or fitness center to keep your exercise routine strong. Pilates, yoga, and spinning classes are very popular these days and many cities and towns have fitness centers dedicated to each one.Sticking to any diet can be a feat for anyone but by eating the right foods, your body will adjust. You might miss those French fries, but it doesn't mean you can't have them. The new food pyramid tells you to limit or lower your intake of trans fats. Start your children off on the right path when they are toddlers by limiting sugars and encouraging more fruits, vegetables, bran, and grains. Enlist a friend to share recipes and exercise together. By making smart food choices that include a variety of foods, you'll have a better chance at losing weight and reaching your goals.

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2,000-Calorie Diet