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NUTRITION

Food Nutrition Guide

We all know that healthy eating is important. For some people, healthy eating seems to come naturally and for others, it seems to be a constant struggle. There are so many dietary guidelines printed in the form of weight loss plans that it can be difficult to know which foods are OK to eat and which foods are not. However, it doesn't have to be that complicated. In fact, the only food nutrition guide you really need is in the form of the food pyramid.

The food pyramid is a food nutrition guide created by the USDA that outlines how many servings of each food group are necessary for a well-balanced, healthy diet. It outlines how many servings of fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy are recommended each day. When used as a food nutrition guide, it becomes easy to select foods at each meal and for snacks that will make up a well-balanced diet. You can even print a copy from the USDA's website for hanging on the refrigerator at home.

As a food nutrition guide, the food pyramid represents five basic food groups. The first group, grains, is comprised of bread, crackers, pasta and other grains. The important thing to remember is to look for whole grains. If you buy whole grain bread and pasta, you can be sure you are making the healthiest choice. The vegetable group is comprised of all vegetables. Dark green and orange vegetables are especially healthy and you should strive to incorporate vegetables into your daily diet.

Fruits are also important and can be eaten fresh, frozen or canned. Try not to count fruit juices as fruit servings because they are sugary and watered down. The dairy group consists of milk and cheese and contains the foods that are highest in calcium. Try drinking at least two glasses of milk each day unless you are lactose intolerant, in which case can you substitute lactose-free products that are high in calcium. Finally, the meat and bean group consists of meat, poultry, fish, and beans and you should strive for low fat and variety in your diet.

The number and size of servings from each food group varies with your age, sex, weight, and activity level. Your daily dietary intake should be measured in calories and you can find out your ideal caloric intake with various online calculators or by talking to your family doctor. Try to maintain the same number of calories each day and to obtain them from a variety of sources that fall within each food group.

To learn more about the food pyramid and how to use it as a food nutrition guide visit the USDA's website and explore the information provided there. When used as a general guideline, you will be able to establish your own dietary needs to create a healthy diet.

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