The foods you eat determine how well your body functions on a day to day basis. Therefore, it is important to eat a nutritious, varied diet in order to feel your best. That means that you need to choose foods from all the food groups, being careful not to overindulge in one or ignore another. This sounds easy enough, but it can be much harder than it seems, particularly if you let your food cravings get the best of you.
Creating a Nutritious Diet Plan
In order to find out which foods are important to eat, and to get an idea on how much of each food to eat, there are two important resources. One is the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the USDA, and the other is the Food Pyramid of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The food pyramid, which was revamped almost ten years ago, advises that it is important to eat between six and eight servings of grains per day. Cereal, rice, pasta, and bread all fall into the grains category. Further, at least three of these servings need to be whole grains.
One slice of bread equals one serving of grains. In addition, one serving of cereal would be one cup, one serving of pasta would be a half of a cup (cooked). Items like donuts and muffins should be eaten sparingly.
In addition to grains, it is important to get between four and six servings of vegetables and between two and four servings of fruits. These foods do not contain a lot of fat, which means they are perfect foods for anyone that is watching what they eat. In addition, fruits and vegetables give you minerals, vitamins, and fiber, all of which you need to feel great and stay active. Steaming them is a great idea. Eating them in a salad is another good choice, but do not add a bunch of toppings or high-fat salad dressing. One serving of vegetables is a half of a cup, although leafy greens are a cup. One serving of fruit is also half a cup.
You also need two or three servings of dairy products, like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Because milk and cheese can be high in fat, look for reduced-fat or fat-free options. If you have a recipe that calls for sour cream, try yogurt instead. One cup of milk or yogurt equals one serving of dairy. Two ounces of cheese is another serving.
Finally, you should consume two or three servings of foods like fish, poultry, meat, eggs, nuts and beans. When it comes to your meat, bake or broil your meal so that it is healthy. When purchasing meat, buy the round or loin cuts because they are lean. If you see fat or skin on your cut before you prepare it, take it off. One serving of fish, poultry or meat is approximately three ounces. You can also get protein from foods like peanut butter and dried beans. These are good options because they do not contain the same cholesterol and animal fat as meat products. To get a serving, have a fourth of a cup of cooked beans or one tablespoon of peanut butter.
Be careful with sweets, oil and fats. You need to have a small amount of these items in order to be healthy, but you do not want to overindulge and you do not want to consume them every day.
Eat Good Foods in the Proper Proportion
When it comes to your target amount of calories, everyone is different. How old you are, your gender and your activity level all factor in. A child older than two but younger than eight could need anywhere from 1400 and 2000 calories per day. Women can eat about 2200 calories per day. Men should try and get about 3000 calories a day. However, if you do not get a decent amount of exercise, those numbers should be about 500 calories lower.
If you are concerned about your eating habits, listen to what your body is telling you. Stop eating when your belly is satisfied. Do not wait until you are full. After about half an hour, see how you feel. If you do not need any more food, that is great. However, if you are still hungry, eat a bit more until you feel better.
The new food pyramid has a spot for exercise. In order to be healthy, you must be active. You will be amazed at what the right food and a little bit of activity can do for you.