Healthy Diet

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Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet Pyramid

The Power of the Healthy Diet Pyramid

What should I eat? How much should I eat? With so much new and sometimes conflicting research—and hundreds of food and beverage options in supermarkets, restaurants, and vending machines—few people have time to sort it all out. If you are drowning in data, don't worry. Look to the healthy diet pyramid for the fundamentals of healthy eating.

Picking a Healthy Diet Pyramid

You can choose from more than one pyramid. The differences among them are minor. Just make sure the healthy diet pyramid that you choose is current. Search the web. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has one. The Mayo Clinic has one. Harvard has several. The list goes on.

Using a Healthy Diet Pyramid

Keep a copy of your healthy diet pyramid on the refrigerator, in your car, at work, or anywhere that you will be making food choices. A healthy diet pyramid can help you picture healthy eating habits. To describe it briefly, the pyramid tells you to indulge guilt-free in some types of food and to closely monitor your intake of other foods.

- Indulge guilt-free. Look at the base or foundation of the healthy-diet pyramid. Most pyramids indicate that you should eat 8-10 servings of vegetables and fruits and 7-8 servings of whole grains. The message: this stuff is very good for you. The more you eat, the healthier you will be. Enjoy these foods without guilt!

- Monitor for moderation. As you move up the healthy diet pyramid, you will notice that the recommended number of daily servings goes down. Dairy, meats, beans, nuts, seeds, oils, and salad dressings—all should be eaten in moderation. Sweets, at the very top, must be monitored even more closely and restricted to less than one a day.

Reading behind the blocks

Is that it? No, there's more to the healthy-diet pyramid than food groups and number of servings. Both are useless if you don't have a solid answer to a critical question: how big is a serving? Serving sizes from one healthy diet pyramid read like this:

- Veggies - 1 cup lettuce, ½ cup other veggies

- Fruits - 1 medium fruit or ½ cup fresh, frozen, or canned or ½ cup dried fruit, or ¾ cup fruit juice

- Grains - 1 slice bread, ½ cup dry cereal, ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal

- Dairy - 1 cup milk or yogurt, 1 ½ oz cheese

- Seafood, meat, poultry - 3 oz. seafood, poultry, pork, beef

- Beans, nuts, seeds - 1/2 cup cooked beans, 1/3 cup nuts, 2 Tbs. seeds

- Oils, salad dressings - 1 tsp. oil or mayo, 1 Tbs. low-fat Mayo or regular salad dressing, 2 Tbs. light salad dressing

You can memorize serving sizes for the various food groups quickly. The greater challenge will be to learn more about deceptive strategies used by the food industry. For now, you can count on your simple beginnings with the healthy diet pyramid to provide a great foundation for learning more.