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3 Easy Ways to Balance Your Diet

By EatingWell Editors, "Balance Your Diet," EatingWell In Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook (2009)

Simple tips for healthy eating every day.

3. Eat by the Pyramid.

To get even more accurate about ensuring nutritional balance in your diet, eat by the USDA’s MyPyramid recommended intakes for all the major food groups. Simply follow the guide below that’s closest to the calorie level you calculated in Step 2.

Recommended daily intakes by Pyramid group for a range of calorie levels:

Calorie level 1,600 1,800 2,000 2,200 2,400
2,600
2,800
3,000
Grains*
5 oz.-eq. 6 oz.-eq. 6 oz.-eq. 7 oz.-eq. 8 oz.-eq. 9 oz.-eq. 10 oz.-eq. 10 oz.-eq.
Vegetables** 2 cups 2.5 cups 2.5 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3.5 cups 3.5 cups 4 cups
Fruits*** 1.5 cups 1.5 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2.5 cups 2.5 cups
Milk (or dairy)
3 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3 cups
Meat, Beans† 5 oz.-eq. 5 oz.-eq. 5.5 oz.-eq. 6 oz.-eq. 6.5 oz.-eq. 6.5 oz.-eq. 7 oz.-eq. 7 oz.-eq.
Oils 5 tsp. 5 tsp. 6 tsp. 6 tsp. 7 tsp. 8 tsp. 8 tsp. 10 tsp.
Discretionary calories†† 132 195 267 290 362 410 426 512

Note: These suggested food amounts are calculated to meet USDA recommended nutrient intakes. The contributions from each group are based on the “nutrient-dense” form of the food, without added fats or sugars (for example, lean meats, fat-free dairy products, grains with no added sugars).
*A 1-oz. grain equivalent = 1⁄2 cup of pasta, rice or oatmeal, 1 cup of whole-grain cold cereal, 1 slice of bread, 1⁄2 of an English muffin.
**A 1⁄2 cup of vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy greens = 1 vegetable serving.
***1 cup of cut fruit or 1 medium whole fruit (orange, apple, banana) = 1 fruit serving.
† A 1-oz. equivalent = 1 oz. lean meat, poultry or fish, 1⁄4 cup cooked beans or tofu.
†† “Discretionary calories” are those remaining in the calorie total when all the food-group portions and nutrients are consumed. You can “spend” them on whatever you want, such as a piece of chocolate or a glass of wine.



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