Let’s start our food education series with a question. What is your Daily Nutrition Requirement? Most of us know that roughly 2000 Calories (for an adult) and 1 heavy + 2 light meals are needed for a day. But do you know further? In this post, we will see the recommended composition of your daily meal.
ChooseMyPlate is an initiative by the US Government to raise awareness about healthy eating for its citizens. But in an open world, everyone of us are entitled to benefit out of this excellent resource.
Food requirements are not a constant. It varies over a period of time, depending on the generation of people and also the climatic-cum-geographical changes.
1992 Food Guide Pyramid
Here is a snapshot of what constituted a balanced meal way back in 1992.
1992 USDA Food Guide Pyramid (Source: RuralVotes)
The summary of this figure can be as follows:
- Primary portion of your food must be substances rich in Carbs like Rice, Pasta and related substances
- Next comes the Fruits and Vegetables that are rich in Fiber, Vitamins, Minerals and other good things for our body
- Following these, are the Protein rich foods like Eggs, Poultry, Nuts, Fish and Milk based products
- Finally the Fats (specifically unsaturated fats) like Sweets, Oils and the rest, that must be consumed in moderation
Though the core message did not change, the latest recommendation is a slightly modified version of Food Guide Pyramid. It also omitted the serving sizes and focused instead on the categories of food that people must intake.
2005 My Pyramid (Source: Everydiet)
Here is how this the pyramid can be explained:
- Grains – This food group includes any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Some examples of grain products are bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits
- Vegetables – Vegetables may be raw or cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, sliced, diced, or mashed
- Fruits – Any fruit or 100% fruit juice
- Oils – Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, such as vegetable oils used in cooking. Limit sources of saturated fats that are normally solid at room temperature like cheese
- Milk – Get calcium rich, low-fat/fat-free foods; if milk is ruled out, use lactose-free or other calcium sources
- Meat & Beans – This group includes meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, and nuts, and foods made from them as well as from seeds (dry beans and peas are part of the vegetable group as well). Most meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat
Here is how the latest recommended version looks like.
2011 My Plate (Source: ChooseMyPlate)
It is very simplified, as I always say that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Grains – These must constitute the major portion of your diet. They are sources of dietary fiber, minerals and necessary vitamins. Choose whole grains and they reduce the risk of chronic diseases, while helping with maintaining good bodily functions. Example food items include Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Whole Wheat etc. List of Grainy Foods
- Vegetables – This is the next big chunk. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. List of Healthy Veggies
- Fruits – Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). List of Fruits
- Proteins – Being building blocks of the body, proteins are essential for a good daily diet. Though Meal and Poultry are the complete source of proteins, vegetables and eggs when taken in right proportion can be sufficient too. Food Gallery of Proteins
- Dairy – Daily intake of dairy products are essential for good bone health owing to their richness in calcium. Food Gallery of Dairy
- Though not mentioned in My Plate, Fats must also be part of daily diet albeit in limited quantity
- Calories alone don’t govern the food choices you make everyday
- Focus on a balanced diet
- Majority of your daily intake should constitute of Vegetables, Grains and Fruits
- Protein rich foods must also find a place. If using Vegetable or non-Meal sources of Protein, make sure that the complete need it taken care of
- Dairy and Fats are essential as well, but they must be taken in moderation