"I like pizza a lot. What food group is it in?"
"When it says 6 to 11 servings of grains, how many should I eat?"
Have you ever looked at the Food Guide Pyramid and asked questions like these? It will show you how to follow the Pyramid and fit the foods you like to eat into a healthy way to eat.
Why is following the Pyramid a good idea?
Choosing foods according to the Pyramid can help you get all the nutrients and other things, such as fiber, that you need for health. No single food or food group supplies all the nutrients in the amounts you need - so choose the recommended number of servings from each Pyramid food group.
Following the Pyramid can also help you keep the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat low, and keep total fat intake at a moderate level. You can do this by choosing mostly fat-free or low-fat items from the Milk group, and mostly lean or low-fat items from the Meat and Beans group. Using the Pyramid as a guide
Your food choices should be built on a base of plant foods - grains, fruits, and vegetables. Start with foods from these three groups as the foundation of your diet. Include dark-green leafy vegetables and dry beans or peas several times a week - they are rich in many vitamins and minerals. Also eat several servings of whole grains each day - whole grains contain fiber and other protective substances.
In the Milk group, you may prefer yogurt, or lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk products. Also, soy-based beverages with added calcium are an option if you want a non-dairy source of calcium. There are many choices in each food group. However, if you avoid all foods from any of the food groups, ask a health care professional to help you make choices that have all the nutrients you need.
How much do you need from each group?
The Pyramid gives a range of servings for each group. The number of servings you need depends on your calorie and nutrient needs. Please see www.MyPyramid.gov for more specific information.
- Milk Group - 2-3 servings daily
- Meat and Beans Group - 5 - 7 ounces daily
- Fats, Oils and Sweets - use sparingly
- Vegetable Group - 3 - 5 servings daily
- Grains Group - 6 - 11 servings daily
What counts as a Pyramid serving?
Grains Group: 1 slice of bread, about 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal flakes, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal
Vegetable Group: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup of other vegetables, 3/4 cup of vegetable juice
Fruit Group: 1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear, 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit, 3/4 cup of fruit juice
Milk Group: 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese, 2 ounces of processed cheese