You have probably heard of the food guide pyramid. It contains all of the 6 food groups and even goes further to indicate the number of servings you should be taking from each food group.
But have you ever taken the time to learn about the food guide pyramid and how you can use it to improve your nutrition status and hence your overall health status? Although their maybe slight variations in the food pyramids you have come across, the nutrition principles they teach are all the same. Under these principles is the cornerstone of good nutrition. These principles include:
v Eat more whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
v Limit the intake of fatty foods, especially those rich in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol
v Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation
v Limit the intake of sweets and sugars
v Control the portion sizes of the foods you eat so as to reduce the overall energy intake
Putting the food guide pyramid into practical use:
Find alternative foods to the one’s you don’t take: For instance, if you don’t consume milk because of lactose intolerance, find a substitute that provides the main nutrients found in milk. Since calcium is a key nutrient found in milk, try substituting milk with whole grains which are rich in calcium.
Practice variety: Not any single food contains all nutrients and it is therefore very important to choose a variety of foods within a single food group so as to meet your body’s nutrient requirements. Variety also makes your meals more exciting.
Consider your personal preferences and tastes when choosing foods: To make your healthy eating habits easy to maintain, make sure that you have adopted your choices from the food guide pyramid to your personal preferences and tastes. For instance, a serving of fruits does not mean you take a slice of pawpaw. It can be a slice of water melon, a medium sized orange, banana, mango etc.
Select foods wisely for your snacks and meals. Select foods that are rich in nutrients (nutrient dense) for your snacks and meals. For instance, instead of drinking soda, you can drink milk or fresh fruit juice which is rich in nutrients as opposed to soda which mainly contains lots of sugar.
Feel free to combine foods across food groups to make up your meals: The possibilities are endless are based on your preferences and creativity when it comes to making meals.
Note: When practicing weight loss, it is advisable to lean towards the lower end of serving sizes of foods from each food group. You can start with the minimum serving sizes before you find the number of servings from each food group you are comfortable with.