Balanced, healthy eating is based on the "Food Pyramid" which contains six main food groups. Eating a balanced diet means eating foods from each of the six main food groups, each day and excluding fats, oils & sweets.
The Food Pyramid (6 Food Groups)
1. Fats, Oils, Sweets: Use Sparingly
2. Milk, Yogurt & Cheese: 2-3 Servings
3. Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, Nuts: 2-3 Servings
4. Vegetables: 3-5 Servings
5. Fruits: 2-4 Servings
6. Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta: 6-11 Servings
If you follow the recommended servings for each of the six food groups (Fats, Milk, Vegetables, Meat/eggs, Fruit, Bread/pasta etc.) each day, and choose lower-fat, lower sugar brands, you are sure to get sufficient nutrients like: protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
By choosing the lower number of servings from each group your calorie intake should add up to about 1600 calories, per day. If you choose the highest number from each group, your calorie intake should be about 2800-2900 calories, per day.
Food Pyramid Serving Sizes
Food Group Serving Size
Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta, Noodles 1 slice bread; 1/2 hamburger bun or English muffin; 1 small roll, muffin, or biscuit; 5-6 small crackers; 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta, noodles; 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal.
Vegetables 1/2 cup cooked/raw vegetables; 1 cup leafy raw vegetables; 1/2 cup cooked peas, beans, other legumes; 3/4 cup vegetable juice.
Fruit 1 medium apple, banana, orange; 1/2 grapefruit; melon wedge; 3/4 cup fruit juice; 1/2 cup chopped fresh, cooked, canned fruit (in juice); 1/4 cup dried fruit;
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese 1 cup milk; 8 ounces yogurt; 1.5 ounces natural cheese; 2 ounces processed cheese.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts In this group 2-3 servings equals 5-7 ounces of cooked lean meat, or poultry without skin, or fish. Note: 1 egg (or 2 egg whites), 1 tbsp nuts, or 1/2 cup cooked peas, beans count as 1 ounce of meat.
Fats, Oils and Sweets Use sparingly. Note: Use fats/oils low in saturated fat. Unprocessed vegetable oils are best. Avoid fats with hydrogenated fat or trans-fatty acids.
Alcohol is not included in the Food Guide Pyramid. But official advice is to limit consumption to two drinks a day (male) or one drink a day, (female). [One drink = 12oz beer; or 1.5oz spirits; or 5oz wine.]