“Eat your vegetables.” “Drink your milk.” You’ve all heard it. Moms and Grandmas have been bugging you to clean your plate since the day you got caught sneaking brussels sprouts to your dog under the table. While it may have been annoying at the time, truth is, they were right. Adding color to your plate and getting the correct amount of each food group ensures proper nutrition for a healthy future.
The five food groups include fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. Fats and oils are also recognized and broken down by the US Department of Agriculture. While the exact percentage of each that you should have depends on your height, weight, and activity level, consuming a variety of each group is vital.
In addition to getting the correct number of servings, it is important to pay close attention to your portion sizes. Many of us struggle with “portion distortion” when it comes to preparing our own meals or ordering at restaurants. Some of us are unaware of our calorie intake when served an enormous plate at a restaurant.
Challenge: For one week, consciously keep track of your food group servings and record your results. What surprised you? Which food groups are you lacking?
4-5 servings of fruit per day are recommended. You should try to consume a variety of types (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried) and colors.
Our favorites: Apples and Blueberries
Similarly, 4-5 servings per day of vegetables are recommended too. While there is a wide variety to choose from, be sure to include green leafy veggies as often as possible.
Our favorites: Spinach and Zucchini
Recommended for grains are 6-8 servings per day. With these, you should focus on finding whole-grain options.
Our favorites: Whole Grain Toast and Whole Grain Rice
While we are aware of the numerous protein powders, shakes, and bars on the market, this food group pertains to items like lean meats, poultry, seafood, etc. Up to 6 oz. are recommended per day.
Our favorites: Shrimp and Grilled Chicken Breast
One of the smaller food groups, only 2-3 dairy servings per day is recommended. When choosing, look for fat-free or low-fat options.
Our favorites: Low-Fat Milk and Cheddar Cheese
Fats and Oils
Another small group, yet one we tend to over indulge on, try to stick to 2-3 servings maximum per day of fats and oils. Focus on unsaturated fats as opposed to full-fat options.
Our favorites: Olive Oil and Almond Butter
In addition to these five food groups, try to get at least half of your body weight in oz. of water each day. For example, a 160 lb. person should consume a minimum of 80 oz. of water.
Our favorite trick: Cut up fresh fruit and add it to your water bottle for a fresh twist!
**(serving-size breakdown for each food group according to the American Heart Association based on a 2,000-calorie diet)
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