When you’re really hungry it is easy to solely think about getting food into your belly and not to consider what type of food or how much you’re consuming, especially when your stomach is yelling at you. I am a culprit of doing this all too often; I will be too busy for lunch, forget to pack a snack and by the time I am home I am grabbing at anything edible I can find.
As a nutrition major, many friends and family members ask, “what and how much should I eat to be healthy?” I am not a stickler for following any specific diet other than following the terms: everything in moderation and source locally, lots of veggies, whole grains and limit meat, sodium and saturated fat intake. You will never find me counting calories but I do believe that portion size is a huge component to being healthy, particularly when we live in a country where portion size is an issue. So how many portions should we be having a day? And, what is a portion of something anyways?
In most of my classes we examine the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This system has been created to guide mindful eating and healthy patterns. Here are some tips, based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that might help you the next time you are putting together dinner for the family!
Vegetables: Suggested to consume 2 ½ cups per day
- 1 cup of vegetables counts as: 1 cup cooked veggies or 2 cups raw leafy greens
Fruits: Suggested to consume 2 cups per day
- 1 cup of fruit counts as: 1 cup raw fruit or 1 cup 100% fruit juice or ½ cup dried fruit
Grains: Suggested to consume 6 ounces, at least ½ whole grain, per day
- 1 ounce of grains counts as: 1 slice of bread or ½ cup cooked rice or pasta
Protein: Suggested to consume no more than 6 ounces, focus on lean options
- 1 ounce of protein counts as: 1 egg or ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tbsp. peanut butter
- 3 ounces, the size of a deck of cards, is a reasonable serving for a lean piece of meat per meal.
Dairy: Suggested to consume 3 cups per day, focus on low fat options
- 1 cup of dairy counts as: 1 cup milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup soy milk, or 1 ½ ounces of cheese
All of these tips and guidelines are created to add onto your knowledge of mindful eating and overall health. So the next time you come home after a trip to the farmer’s market and begin making a meal, keep these guidelines in mind!