International Guild of Hospitality & Restaurant Managers

Food Pyramid Guide

back  

Food Pyramid       Our bodies crave a wide variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that can only come from a well-balanced meal. The problem is, although most of us are aware of the importance of healthy eating, we're no quite sure how to go about it. Join us as we explain how to use our favorite meal planning guide -- the food guide pyramid!

Food Guide Pyramid Basics

Make Friends with the Food Guide Pyramid

 

Food Guide Pyramid Basics
The US Department of Health and Human Services' famous food guide pyramid is one of the most simple to use and easy to understand nutritional tools available. However, unless time is spent getting to know its nooks and crannies, it cannot be used effectively. Before jumping in, take some time to understand a few food guide pyramid ground rules:

  • The food guide pyramid is only a guideline that still needs to be altered for individual use according to height, weight, physical condition, activity level and age.
  • Acceptable calorie levels per day varies according to a variety of factors. The following chart will give you a very rough estimate of how many calories to allow for in your daily diet. It is also recommended that 30% or less of daily calories should come from fat.

Calorie intake per day:

Inactive women, older adults

about 1,600 calories

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

about 2,200 calories

Teenage boys, active men

about 2,800 calories

The calorie levels listed above are recommended when an individual opts to eat a diet of low-fat, lean meats and use fats, oils and sweets sparingly. In addition, if you are extremely active on one day, you should expect to eat a higher amount of calories. However, if you will be inactive you should lower your calorie level accordingly.

Make Friends with the Food Guide Pyramid
It's time to start exploring! Click on each section of the food guide pyramid to uncover the daily recommended serving of each food group for your body type (you'll also get a clear explanation of what "1 serving" means for each food group). It is recommended that food from each food group is worked into a meal plan to maintain a well balanced daily diet. Once you've got a comfortable handle on how to use the food guide pyramid, start meal planning!*

* It is important to note that the food guide pyramid is not designed as a weight loss program. If you are looking to begin a weight loss program you should contact your personal physician or nutritionist.

Click on the areas in the food pyramid to learn more. Click here to read about keeping yourself on track for healthy eating.

bread, cereal, rice and pasta group

6-11 servings

How many servings are right for you?

Inactive women, older adults

6 servings

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

9 servings

Teenage boys, active men

11 servings

 

 

 

How much is one serving?

 

1 serving is equal to:

1 slice of bread
~ OR ~
1 ounce of ready to eat cereal
~ OR ~
1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

 

Foods that belong to the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group should be the centerpiece of the meal. When preparing rice and pasta from packaged mixes (or even recipes from cookbooks and cooking Web sites!) it is important to remember that not all recipes are made with health in mind. With that said, you must learn how to turn a high-fat recipe into a low-fat one. The most important trick for making low-fat grains is to realize that it isn't always necessary to use all of the fat that the directions suggest. Use only half of the butter, margarine, or oil, and when the recipe calls for cream or half-and-half cream, substitute low-fat or non-fat milk. Experiment with recipes! Just because they are written on a box, in a book, or on the Internet doesn't mean that they are best for you!

 

Back to the Food Pyramid

vegetable group

3-5 servings

How many servings are right for you?

Inactive women, older adults

3 servings

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

4 servings

Teenage boys, active men

5 servings

 

How much is one serving?

 

1 serving is equal to:

1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
~ OR ~
1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw
~ OR ~
3/4 cup of vegetable juice

 

Second only to grains, vegetables are the things you should be eating the most. Steaming and boiling are two excellent, ZERO fat options for cooking. If you are going to fry your vegetables, keep the fat at a low. Use a non-stick skillet and non-stick cooking spray when you can. Instead of using oil when sauteing vegetables, you can use 2 tablespoons of water. Place the water and vegetables in the water and saute as if you were using oil. Your vegetables will cook with none of the fat!

 

Back to the Food Pyramid

fruit group 2-4 servings

How many servings are right for you?

Inactive women, older adults

2 servings

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

3 servings

Teenage boys, active men

4 servings

 

How much is one serving?

 

1 serving is equal to:

1 medium apple, banana, orange
~ OR ~
1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit
~ OR ~
3/4 cup of fruit juice

 

Fruits, along with vegetables and grains, are an excellent source of fiber -- so don't skimp on 'em! 2 to 4 servings of fruit is not an overwhelming amount. You can easily eat your share by taking them along to school or work to eat as a snack. Along with eating fresh, dried, or canned fruit on the side, you can incorporate fruit into your main dishes and salads. salads.

milk, yogurt and cheese group

2-3 servings

How many servings are right for you?

Inactive women, older adults

2 servings

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

2-3 servings

Teenage boys, active men

2-3 servings

 

How much is one serving?

 

1 serving is equal to: 

1 cup of milk or yogurt
~ OR ~
1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese, 3 tablespoons equals 1 1/2 ounces
~ OR ~
2 ounces of process cheese, 4 tablespoons equals 2 ounces

 

To keep yourself within acceptable serving boundaries of this particular area of the food guide pyramid, you've really got to be careful. Once again, moderation is the key to healthy eating. Take note of how much cheese and other dairy products you use when cooking. Drink and cook with low-fat or non-fat milk, low-fat or non-fat yogurt, and low-fat or non-fat sour cream. When cooking with dairy products choose dishes that do not rely on the dairy product for the bulk of its flavor and substance.

 

Back to the Food Pyramid

meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts
2-3 servings 

How many servings are right for you?

 

Inactive women, older adults

2, for a total of 5 ounces

 

Children, teenage girls, active women, inactive men

2, for a total of 6 ounces

 

Teenage boys, active men

3, for a total of 7 ounces

 

How much is one serving?

 

1 serving is equal to:

2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1 serving of meat is equivalent to the size of a deck of playing cards
~ OR ~
1/2 cup of cooked dry beans
~ OR ~
1 egg
~ OR ~
2 tablespoons of peanut butter counts as 1 lean ounce of meat

 

The meat group can be the hardest area of the food guide pyramid to come to terms with because the recommended size of a serving of meat is a lot smaller than many people have grown accustomed to. Contrary to popular belief, meat does not have to disappear from your diet, it does however, have to be eaten with moderation. If you intend to eat a piece of meat that will equal your entire day's allotted amount from the meat group, you must plan the rest of your day's meals accordingly. When you go out to a restaurant and want to order steak, ask the waiter how many ounces the steak will be. Often filet mignon will be 6 ounces, while other steaks will be 8 ounces.

A few meat facts:

  • Pork is often the lowest fat alternative when it comes to meats.
  • When cooking with chicken, be sure to skin it, because much of its fat is held between the skin and flesh.
  • Soy products are an excellent meat alternative. Although they are not meat, they do contain much of the protein that meat does, while offering less fat.

 

Back to the Food Pyramid

fats, oils and sweets

The tip-top of the food guide pyramid is reserved for foods that should be eaten sparingly. Try to limit yourself to a candy bar, ice cream, cake or other fatty treats for special occasions.

Back to the Food Pyramid

 

 

Recipes from around the World