Let’s go back to basics and talk about the five food groups as well as easy steps to work towards eating a more balanced diet.
The five food groups include: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. When composing your meals and snacks each day, including multiple food groups will help you to give your body long lasting fuel, as well as more nutritious and balanced eats. For meals try including at least 3 food groups, and for snack times at least 2. For example, if your typical snack is cheese puffs, what food group is that? And is it a good fuel for your body as well as nutritious? We all know the answer to that! Let’s say you switch it up to a serving of whole wheat crackers and an ounce of cheese instead, which includes a grain and dairy. Not only will it be more satisfying and filling, but it is balanced and will fuel your body for several hours. The same idea goes for meals, like breakfast, choose a serving of hot cereal made with milk and topped with fruit rather than a bagel with cream cheese.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have key recommendations related to each food group to help us eat more balanced and nutritiously.
Fruits: Choose whole fruit more often to benefit from the fiber. When selecting canned fruit, choose ones that are packed in 100% juice. If you love juice, make sure to select 100% juice to avoid lots of added sugar.
Vegetables: Try consuming a variety of green, red, orange, purple and white veggies. Don’t forget beans! Starchy veggies like peas, corn and potatoes should be paired with non-starchy veggies for balance.
Protein: Choose lean meats, poultry and seafood as well as eggs. Vegetarian options include legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products.
Grains: Aim to make half of your grains whole each day. Breads, rice, pasta, crackers and popcorn are a few examples.
Dairy: Select low-fat and fat free products like yogurt, milk, cheeses, ice cream and fortified soy beverages
What is a Serving Size?
½ cup fresh, canned, frozen
¼ cup dried
4 oz. 100% juice
½ cup fresh, canned, frozen
1 cup fresh leafy greens
1/2 cup cooked rice, couscous, barley, oats, pasta
1 cup ready-to-eat cereal
1 oz. slice of bread
1- 6” corn or flour tortilla
3-4 oz. meat, fish, poultry
1 cup beans, peas
1 egg or 3 egg white
1 oz. nuts, seeds
1 cup milk
1 cup fortified soy beverage
1 cup yogurt
1½ oz. hard cheese or ⅓ cup shredded
½ cup ice cream
Although not technically a food group, include a variety of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils in your diet
Safflower, sunflower, canola, vegetable and olive oils
1 tablespoon oil
*Coconut oil is a plant derived oil
but is high in saturated fat so it
should be categorized like a solid
fat (which is any fat solid at room
temperature, for example butter and