How many servings of fruits and vegetable does your body need on a daily basis? What amount of grains do you need to eat? Meats? Dairy? With standards changing on a consistent basis, it can be quite challenging to know how much from each of the food groups we need to incorporate into our daily diets. Developing personal meal plans can help you figure how much of what you need to eat in order to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. Essentially, when you know how to eat right, you’ve developed your own personal weight loss plan.
I once read that your diet should look like a box of Crayola crayons! What a perfect saying to put our diet plan into a rainbow perspective! Try eating a range of foods in assorted colors. I know, you’re asking yourself, “Well, how much of these fruits and vegetables and everything else should I eat?” Great question! Because, as we all know, especially in the United States, there is no such thing as one portion. In other words, we are bombarded with enticing slogans from restaurants and other food stops: “endless pasta bowls”, “unlimited soup and salad”, and “free drink refills”. So how much is too much? What is considered a portion? Let’s take a look and see how portion control works together with developing personal meal plans.
Let’s use myself as an example for designing a personal meal plan. First, I went to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website and selected my pyramid plan, which is located on left side of the website under interactive tools. I inserted the requested information: age (my age 31), sex (I am female), weight (my weight -135 pounds), height (my height – 5 feet, 5 inches), and amount of physical activity (for me it is about 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity 5 days a week, plus strength training for about 20 minutes also 5 days a week). After submitting that information, out comes the recommended amount from each food group, which I should aim to eat:
Grains: ( I should eat about 7 ounces everyday)
- 3.5 ounces of whole grains daily (go for the whole grains and not the refined grains: whole grains means they have the entire grain kernel – like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, and popcorn)
- I should aim for about 7 ounces of grains (including whole and refined) daily.
- Tip: try and include high fiber whole grains such as rice and whole wheat pasta.
Vegetables: ( I should aim for 3 cups daily)
- 3 cups dark green vegetables weekly (such as broccoli, romaine lettuce and spinach)
- 2 cups orange vegetables weekly (carrots, squash , sweet potatoes,)
- 6 cups starchy vegetables weekly (corn, green lima beans, potatoes)
- 7 cups of other vegetables weekly (eggplant , green or red peppers, green beans, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini)
- 3 cups dry beans and peas weekly – (black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans)
Fruits: (2 cups of fruits daily is best for my plan)
- Bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc.
- Tip: try eating fruits that are in season and if you do buy canned fruit, purchase fruit that is canned in water or in its own juice.
Milk: (I should aim for 3 cups daily)
- If you can not drink milk, try other dairy alternatives such as: cheese and yogurt.
- If you do not already drink fat-free milk, try and buy lower fat milks until you have reached fat-free milk.
- An assortment of cheeses and yogurts now come in reduced fat – give them a try, to fit in your daily requirement.
Meat and Beans: ( 6 ounces is what I should intake daily)
- Choose lean meats and trim excess fats from meats and poultry.
- Try fish! It is a wonderful way to sneak in those important omega 3 fatty acids – salmon and trout would be great choices!
- Opt for meatless dishes, such a rice and beans or maybe tofu.
- Avoid processed meats.
As you can see, just from my own personal analysis, you can now understand what a portion is and how much of certain food groups you should have on a daily basis. I should also limit my sugars and oils to a total of 290 calories per day. Now that we understand what and how much we should consume, it is just a matter of putting it all together to create your own meal plans! For those that are looking to lose weight, it could act as a starting point for your own weight loss diet plan.
In my next post, I will develop a personal meal plan for children. In the coming weeks, look for future recipes of how to include your daily food requirements for you and your children.