General Guidelines

Eat three square meals a day

meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Eat the recommended number of servings for each food group.

This diagram can help. (Based on the Food Guide Pyramid offered by the US Dept. of Agriculture and the Dept. of Health and Human Services) For alternative ethnic or cultural Food Guide Pyramids click here.

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food pyramid

By looking at this pyramid you can see which foods you should be eating more of, and which foods you should be eating less of. Sweets at the top of the pyramid should be limited as they are not needed by the body. Foods high in carbohydrates lie at the base of the pyramid, because a much larger quantity is needed to supply your body with long term energy.

How much exactly is a serving.
6 to 11 servings of pasta probably seems like a heck of a lot. The actual serving size referred to by this pyramid is probably less than you normally think of as a serving. Here are examples of different foods and what is considered a serving for each by this pyramid:

Food Type Amount per serving
Dairy 1 serving
reduced fat milk or yogurt 1 cup
natural cheese (hard cheeses like Cheddar) 1.5 ounces
processed cheese (soft cheese like American) 2 ounces
soy-based beverage with added calcium 1 cup
Vegetables 1 serving
raw leafy veggies
(lettuce, spinach)
1 cup
other vegetables
(cooked or raw)
1/2 cup
dry beans, peas and lentils 1/2 cup
vegetable juice 3/4 cup
Fruit 1 serving
apple, banana, orange, pear 1 (medium sized)
chopped, cooked, or canned fruit 1/2 cup
fruit juice 3/4 cup
Grains (Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta) 1 serving
bread 1 slice
cold cereal 1 cup
cooked cereal, rice or pasta 1/2 cup
bagel 1/4

Meat, dried beans and nuts (2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat counts as 1 serving)

For this group, it's easier to count ounces of lean meat instead of servings.
6 ounces of lean meat daily for girls.
7 ounces of lean meat daily for boys.

Every food has its own combination of nutrients. Meat is important because it provides creatine, a nutrient needed by your muscles. These other foods contain their own special nutrients. So for a healthy variety of nutrients, include the following foods when counting your daily ounces of lean meat. Each amount below should be counted as 1 ounce of lean meat.

1/2 cup of cooked dried beans, peas, lentils or tofu
(Dry beans, peas and lentils can either be counted as part of your meat group or as part of your vegetable group.)
1 egg
2.5 ounce soyburger
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1/3 cup of nuts

g cup and scale everywhere you go. We suggest measuring out one serving of each food. By doing so you can get a good idea of what 1 serving looks like. You can then look at a meal and count roughly how many servings of each group you are eating.

We also don't expect you to keep track of exactly how many servings of each group you eat every single day. We do recommend taking one day to record on paper the number of servings you eat for each food group. If you are way off the recommended servings, then try to figure out what you need to do, in order to get on track. Adjust your eating habits and take another day to record your servings. Once your eating habits match the recommended servings, stick to that plan. Once every few months, take a day to record your servings again to see if you are still on track.

When figuring out servings, don't rely on a package label. Instead use the table above. The serving sizes in this table don't always equal the serving size referred to by a package label.

As you can see from the serving recommendations, servings for teenage girls normally should fall somewhere in the middle of the recommended range. Servings for most teenage boys and vigorously active girls should fall in the upper end of the recommended range. Males in general have a faster metabolism than females and thus use up nutrients more quickly. As a result they should consume slightly more servings of each group per day.

Most teenage girls should consume about 2200 calories per day.

Most teenage boys and vigorously active girls should consume about 2800 calories per day.

No time for breakfast? How about time for a glass of juice and an energy bar?

Try an energy bar with around 250 total calories, at least 3 grams of fiber and 7 grams of fat Ð no more than 2 grams of saturated fat.
Best energy bars:
Cranberry-apple-cherry, or carrot cake Cliff bar
Harvest apple crisp Power bar
Odwalla peanut crunch bar

Water it also does a body good! 50-60% of the food you eat should be water content food.

Drink around 8 glasses of water a day and your body will thank you. Urine deep orange? You're dehydrated.
Urine pale yellow? You're doing great.

Limit the fat you eat to no more than 25% of your daily intake.

If you have a family history of cancer, then avoid unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in margarine, corn oil and fried foods. If you have a family history of heart disease, then avoid saturated fats found in butter.

Gradually increase your daily dose of fiber until it reaches 20 to 35 grams a day. No more.

Use soluble fiber found in oats, dried beans and fruit. Don't go crazy on whole wheat - too much can inhibit absorption of minerals you need during the teenage years.

Plastics and metals in the Microwave: Bad Glass or Pyrex in the Microwave: Good

Plastics leak carcinogenic chemicals including DEHA, short for di(2-ethylhexyl)adipate, into your food, thus making your food toxic. Metals, like those in aluminim foil or tin foil, are unstable in the microwave. To be safe always put your food in a container made of glass or Pyrex. Pyrex is a brand of durable high-temperature material used for high-performance bakeware. If you don't have a cover made of glass or Pyrex, use Wax paper to cover the glass or Pyrex container. Never use Saran Wrap, Handi-Wrap, aluminum foil, tin foil, etc. to cover your food. Wax paper, a glass lid or pyrex lid are the safest solutions.

So many things to remember! The following "Dietary Guidelines For Americans" has been provided by the government to help simplify your life.

(According to the the United States Department of Health and Human Resources, and the United States Department of Agriculture, you should...)

Aim for fitness...

  • Aim for a healthy weight
  • Be physically active each day

Build a healthy base...

  • Let the Pyramid guide your food choices.
  • Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains.
  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Keep food safe to eat.

Choose sensibly...

  • Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat.
  • Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars.
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

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