The new food pyramid was put together by the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA. It separates foods into groups and suggests how many servings you should eat from each group per day. One single food does not provide all of the essential nutrients you need, explains Mayo Clinic.com. Following the pyramid promotes a balanced diet that provides all of the nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Servings Per Day
USDA recommends including foods from all food groups at each meal. A healthy diet comprises 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily. Grains are an important part of your diet, but at least half of your consumption should come from whole grains. Include 3 to 4 oz. of grain foods in your meals throughout the day. Get 3 cups from the milk group and 5 to 6 oz. of protein foods.
Getting in all of the food groups first thing in the morning takes some planning. Make an egg-white omelet, filled with spinach, diced tomatoes and feta cheese. Enjoy two slices of cantaloupe on the side and a glass of 1 percent milk. Toast a slice of whole-wheat bread to complete your meal. If you need to eat on the go, put your omelet on an English muffin, making a sandwich and grab an apple.
Salads are a simple meal to pack for your lunch. Pack up your favorite salad greens and veggies and toss in some black beans or garbanzo beans for added protein. Add whole grains to your salad by sprinkling wheat germ on top. Get your fruit and dairy by enjoying frozen yogurt with fresh berries. You can also make a pita with spinach, almond slivers, Swiss cheese, sliced turkey meat, dried cranberries and mayonnaise. Either of these menu options provides foods from each food group.
For dinner, grill a chicken breast, sirloin or slice of tofu. Keep in mind that you are allotted up to 6 oz. of protein for the entire day. Depending on how much you ate at breakfast and lunch, cut down your serving at dinner to about 3 oz. of meat. Top your protein food with gorgonzola cheese as a way to have a serving of dairy. Steamed broccoli, spinach or carrots make delicious side items. Grain options include brown rice, quinoa or wheat pasta. Sneak in your fruit serving by mixing 100 percent cranberry juice with lemon-lime soda to make a spritzer.
Enjoying a few healthy snacks throughout the day keeps you satisfied until the next meal. If you have a hard time getting in all food groups at each meal, eat what you missed as a snack. For example, if you can't get your fruit in at breakfast, have a mid-morning orange or banana. In the afternoon, snack on peanuts or pistachios for additional protein. Portion out nuts ahead of time to avoid eating too much.