It's All About Me! MyPyramid (part 3) : Food Intake Patterns, Build a Healthy Nutrition Base

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6. Food Intake Patterns

In the past when you talked about USDA guidelines all one heard over and over again was the reference to “servings.” This wasn’t a bad approach to portion control but many people just couldn’t relate to the term. Nowadays, MyPyramid offers recommendations in cups and ounces and not in servings and serving sizes. You can look at what you eat the whole day rather than how many servings you had during a meal or snack. This is much more user friendly. Of course, the exact amount of food you should consume depends on many factors, including your age, size, gender, health status, and activity level. Young children and teenagers often require additional foods because of their body’s needs during the growing years. Athletes may require more servings due to their high energy needs. Sedentary individuals and the elderly often require less because of their less-active lifestyle. And individuals seeking to lose weight may reduce their overall intake.

In the corresponding box you will find a link to a graph of the USDA recommended food pyramid—MyPyramid. The food intake graph helps to demonstrate how you can create your personal eating plan coupled with physical activity to achieve healthy balance in your life. However, to really make this work you have to dig deeper. MyPyramid only works if you consume the right amount of each of the food groups for your individual needs.

What’s really cool is you can use this table to help you develop healthy food intake patterns that are just right for you. It explains the exact portion sizes that you need without using confusing terms like “servings.” Use your calorie requirement calculation and this table to adjust exactly how much of each food group you can eat to reach your personal desired goal.

Promise me that you take a look at this table. It really works! Once you reach your optimum weight goal this table can also help you maintain a healthy weight for life. I love this table. Refer to it often.

Cyndi’s Secrets

You can effectively and safely lose approximately one to two pounds per week by decreasing your calories by no more than 500 to 700 per day. What can you cut back on? Do you really need that soda?

Oh, keep in mind that the most effective way to lose weight is to do so with gradual decreases in calorie requirements. This will allow for a slow and steady weight loss. Caloric decreases should be no more than 500–700 calories per day. At this level, individuals can expect a weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds per week. Get ready to see some smoking results!

7. Build a Healthy Nutrition Base!

Building a healthy nutrition base is the foundation of staying healthy and achieving weight loss. Because no one single food can provide all the nutrients you need, you should consume a number of different foods each day. Here is what you can eat from MyPyramid to get your desired results.

Gravitate to Grains

Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, barley, or cereal are considered grains. Think of pasta, bread, and oatmeal, for example. Grain products are low in fat. There are “whole” and “refined” grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—meaning the bran or germ. Refined grains remove the bran and germ. While milling may lengthen the shelf life of your bread (who wants old bread?), it also removes the dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. The whole truth is whole grains are better!

Vary Your Veggies

There isn’t a sensible diet on the planet that disagrees with the importance of eating lots of vegetables. Maybe it’s time you took that advice seriously. Whether they are cooked, raw, fresh, frozen, canned, dried, whole, cut-up, or mashed you can’t go wrong with vegetables. They are jam packed with nutrients for overall health. They are loaded with fiber, which is great for losing weight. Fiber can help you feel full and eat less. Fiber in your body acts as the roto-rooter of your system and helps to clean you out. MyPyramid recommends five veggie subgroups. These subgroups include vegetables that are dark green, orange, dry beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and all “other” vegetables. Different vegetables provide different nutrients. That’s why, to simplify: vary your veggies!

Cyndi’s Secrets

You can easily increase your fiber intake by keeping peels on your fruits and veggies. A modest baked potato with skin has almost twice the fiber of a “naked” potato the same size.

Fruits Are Your Friends

Making friends with fruits is easy. They are delicious. They may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. Serve them up whole, cut-up, or puréed. Although 100 percent fruit juice counts as a fruit, make most of your fruit choices whole. My mom used to freeze peach slices from our tree and they were yummy! Just like with vegetables, the nutrients in fruit choices vary. That’s why it’s wise to make friends with lots of fruits!

Bone-Up on Calcium-Rich Foods

All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered calcium rich. This is important because whether you are two or ninety-two the nutrients in milk build and maintain healthy bones and strong teeth. Choose milk products that retain their calcium content such as all fluid milk, yogurt, or cheese. Avoid foods made from milk that have little or no calcium such as cream cheese, cream, and butter. It is also best to choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. For those who are lactose intolerant, lactose-free products are available.

Cyndi’s Secrets

Fiber acts like a sponge by absorbing water that softens stools and reduces incidence of constipation. It also provides a sensation of fullness by actually slowing the emptying time of the stomach. Fibrous foods are also usually low in fat and calories.

Meat and Beans

Get lean with protein. All foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds are considered part of this category. If you noticed that “dry beans or peas” are in the vegetable group as well, it’s not a typo. Vegetarians are happy that you can kill two birds with one stone—not that we would kill a bird! If you choose meat or poultry, make sure that it is lean or low-fat. It is better to choose fish, nuts, and seeds that contain healthy oils.

Making Peace with Oil

Don’t go to war with oil. Some of it is essential. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature like cooking vegetable oils. They come from fish and many different plants. Some common oils are canola oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil. Fats that are solid at room temperature such as butter, shortening, or chicken fat come from many animal foods and can also be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation. Obviously, it’s not smart to order a plate of lard. The better fat choices should be from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Limit your intake of solid fats like butter, stick margarine, shortening, and lard.


  YOUR Life

Marinate raw veggies in low-calorie Italian dressing. I keep mine covered in the fridge. They make a great healthy snack and help provide lots of vegetable variety.

Use Your Discretionary Calories

What is really cool about MyPyramid is that it allows for the fun food factor. We all have a food weakness. I love chocolate, desserts, and other good stuff. This program gives you a total calorie budget. Your budget can be divided into “essentials” and “extras.” If you make smart food choices most of the time there is room in the calorie budget for healthy “little” treats of your choice on occasion. You can call them the “discretionary calories.”

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