How to Combine Foods for Nutrition

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Food Guide Pyramid
Food Guide Pyramid (Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Many scientists and nutritionists have studied what foods are best to keep our bodies healthy and strong. The food guide pyramid was developed as a guide to help people make good, balanced choices. Using the food guide pyramid you can begin to combine the right foods to give your body the nutrition it requires from day to day. Read further to find out how to combine foods for your optimal nutrition.

Things You'll Need

  • Food Guide Pyramid
  • A Daily Eating Plan

Create a food group log. Create a table with five columns: (1) meal, (2) dairy, (3) meats, (4) fruits/vegetables and (5) grains. In the Meal column, create five descending rows: (1) breakfast, (2) lunch, (3) snack, (4) dinner and (5) total servings.Complete the Total Servings row with the following numbers: 3, 2, 5 and 6. These numbers are the total servings you need in each of the categories above. Note: The number of servings you require in each category depends on individual factors, including age, gender, metabolic rate and activity level. For example, a 15-year-old boy and a 70-year-old woman will have different serving requirements.

Think of what you ate yesterday and fill in the blanks in your table. You may be surprised to find that you have consumed more than recommended in one category and less in another. Use this information to make a daily food plan. Remember that a serving is not necessarily what you eat in a single sitting. For example, a sandwich actually contains two servings of grains (one serving per slice of bread).

Create a daily eating plan. Here is an example: if you have eggs and bacon for breakfast, then your meat requirements have likely been reached for the day. For lunch, have a cheese sandwich with an apple or banana. Have vegetable soup for dinner with a small salad, a roll and a glass of milk. Carrots and celery sticks make a great snack and count in the vegetable category. Sliced fresh fruit with yogurt or granola make a sweet, healthy dessert.

Be creative. There is no end to the amount of combinations you can make with your new chart. Plus, you can be confident you are eating meals that are well balanced and nutritious.

Tips & Warnings

  • As shown in the food guide pyramid, there are five main types of foods that your body requires to stay healthy: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat and beans. Each category requires a different amount of servings per day. Dairy foods consist of yogurt, milk and cheese. Your body require 2 to 3 servings of dairy food per day. Meats include poultry, red meat, beans, fish and eggs. You should get 2 to 3 servings of meat per day. Most people do not consume enough fruits and vegetables; you need 2 to 4 servings of fruit and 3-5 services of vegetables. Grains include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. You need 6 to 11 servings each day.
  • Don't try to change all your eating habits in one day. Instead, make one improvement each week so that you get a sense of accomplishment.

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