We are working with Laura Clark, a registered dietitian with over 20 years experience in nutrition and dietetics. You can ask her a question and we will publish the most commonly asked questions on the 'you and your diet' pages.
Build a healthy eating style
All food and beverage choices matter - focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or any other cereal grain is a grain product. This includes breads, breakfast cereal, and pasta. These are divided into whole grains and refined grains.
Whole grains contain the entire kernel. For example, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole meal flour are whole grains. Be sure to chew anything with seeds carefully and completely.
Refined grains have been milled to remove husks or fibre. These provide finer texture and include white flour, white rice, white bread, and pasta. A typical adult profile calls for three servings per day. One serving equals a slice of bread, half a cup of cooked cereal, half a cup of rice or pasta, or a cup of cold cereal.
Fruit and vegetables
Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of this group. Vegetables may be eaten raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, dried, whole, cut up, or mashed.
For vegetables, one serving equals about one cup. Depending on age, weight and gender, guidelines call for one to three cups of vegetables a day.
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of this food group.
Fruit may be fresh, canned, frozen, dried, whole, cut up, or puréed. A serving of fruit equals one cup, and five servings per day are recommended. Fruit juice contains more sugars than just fruit; keep this in mind if you are watching your caloric intake. Overall, fresh whole fruit is a better choice.
Oils come from many different plants and fish. Examples are corn, olive, soybean, and sunflower oils.
Fats should be kept to a minimum. There are good fats and bad fats. Some fats contain high amounts of cholesterol, which can cause heart disease. Oils from plant sources do not contain any cholesterol. Fish oils are naturally good at reducing bad fats.
Oils include both solid fats and oils. Solid fats are those that are solid at room temperature. Examples are butter, lard, margarine, and shortening.
Fats that are oils remain liquid at room temperature. Those that are mainly oils include mayonnaise and salad dressings. A number of foods with naturally occurring oils are nuts, olives, fish, and avocados.
Daily servings of fats and oils often come from the cooking processes, such as pan frying. A constant diet of deep fried food can be bad for you, but for most people there is no harm if it is done infrequently
One of the primary benefits of dairy products is the calcium they contain.
Besides milk products, you can get the benefits of dairy through cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding made with milk, ice cream, and ice milk.
If you have lactose intolerance, there are milk alternative products available that are lactose free. Some cheeses and yogurts are lactose free as well. It’s always worth reading the packaging contents label to make sure.
You might consider soy milk and other soy products as dairy alternatives, but they may not contain the full array of nutrients that dairy products have.
Recommendations for dairy vary, but about three servings per day is optimal to maintain healthy bones and provide other essential nutrients. One serving equals a cup of milk, a pot of yogurt or a piece of cheese. With this many options, it is easy to get your daily intake.
All meat, poultry, fish, dried beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of this group. Protein is one of the most important nutrients supplied by this group.
Meat and poultry choices should be low-fat. Fish, nuts, and seeds contain healthy oils, so be sure to include them in your diet frequently
General recommendations for this food group would be five or six servings a day. A serving is approximately one egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter, a small handful of nuts or seeds, or 25 grams of meat.
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