We all live very busy lives and we get caught up in “life” that making sure we get a balanced nutritious meal goes to the back burner. In a typical family, it is close to impossible to have everybody at the dinner table at the same time for meals all the time. Everyone has a different schedule and therefore being there to enjoy a well thought out balanced meal becomes a challenge. Do you wonder whether your kids are getting all the nutrition they need when all they eat are ice creams and cookies? Well, you are not alone.
The food pyramid was designed by the US Department of Agriculture as a guide for the public on how to pick and choose what they consume to get a balanced diet. There are an overwhelming variety of processed foods and natural foods and the food pyramid guides the public in making healthy food choices.
The pyramid shaped guide shows different types of essential food types and the quantity a normal individual requires of each group
Understanding the food pyramid and keeping handy different types of food as outlined in the guide will guarantee that you and your family eat a balance diet at each meal.
The food pyramid is divided into six major categories:
•Oils •Proteins •Dairy products •Fruits •Vegetables •Carbohydrates
On the top of the pyramid sits foods like oils, fats and sweets. The consumption of these products should be limited. They are not easy to digest, and cause more harm than good when consumed in large amounts. Other food items in this category include candies, margarines, cream, butter etc.
Fish, eggs, beans, nuts and leans meats are excellent sources of protein and you need about 2 to 3 servings of each food daily. Even though meats and nuts are excellent sources of protein, they also contain fat. In the case of meat, these should be trimmed off nuts should be eaten in moderation.
Milk is the ultimate dairy product. It contains most required minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus etc. Other recommended dairy products include yogurt and cheese, which are derivates of milk. There are different types of cheese made from milk and it is healthy to stick to the low fat types. Ice creams, another derivative of milk should be consumed in low amounts or the fat free variety should be sought.
Vegetables and fruits
Following the shape of the pyramid, one can see that fruits and vegetables are needed in lower quantities than carbohydrates. On the average, a normal fully grown adult should need about 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fiber essentially keeps the bowel functioning optimally, and the high fiber contents of vegetables and fruits make them the ideal source for fiber.
They are rich in minerals and vitamins which are required for the proper functioning of the body and maintenance of the immune system. Eating fresh fruits is more beneficial to drinking fruit juice concentrates; and when it comes to vegetables, fresh dark green veggies are the best.
At the bottom of the food guide pyramid is the energy providing foods. They are low in fat and very rich in cereals. They include grains of different types, bread, cereals and pasta. A normal adult needs about 6 to 11 servings of carbohydrates in their daily requirement. Whole grains are the healthiest and best foods in this category. In a single serving of carbs, you can include an ounce of pasta or rice, a slice of bread or a cup of cereal