When the government replaced the old food pyramid with a plate divided into four parts, it was supposed to make nutrition recommendations easier to understand. But the USDA’s research finds that two years later, most people still aren’t digesting the guidelines. Change does take time, but we’d like to speed up the process by making easier even easier.
Here is how much you need from each food group, and the ounce or cup equivalents of one serving of some common foods. That means while the amounts might not actually be exactly an ounce or a cup, they count as an ounce or a cup when adding up your daily intake.
On average, according to the USDA, people are eating 30 percent more meat than is recommended. The government says women should aim for about 5 ounces of lean meat, fish or vegetarian protein each day. Now, we believe you should have, at most, 4 ounces of red meat, including pork, in a week (we may learn how to make red meat less problematic in the future, but for now we advise limiting yourself)—so add that in to your thoughts.
Women should be getting about 2 cups of fruit a day, by the USDA guidelines—and we believe 4 cups is optimal. Across the country, people are eating only 38 percent of that 2-cup minimum.
The My Plate people say you want to tally up a healthy 2.5 cups of vegetables a day; we think 5 is closer to optimal. Do you think we, as a country, are swallowing even that 2.5-cup minimum? No, we’re not. Try 1.6 cups, on average. We’re doing a little better with vegetables than with fruit, but it still needs work.
No surprise, but the USDA says that we’re overdoing it on grains. (Oh, those never-ending bread baskets!) Stick to 6 ounces of 100 percent whole grains (and only 100 percent whole grains) a day.
We’re coming up short on the 3 cups of dairy products the government recommends each day. The overall benefit of dairy has come into question in recent years, and many people are cutting out dairy these days for digestive reasons. If you do eat dairy, stick to nonfat—that is, skim—products only. And try no-fat, no-sugar added almond or walnut or soy milk.
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