19 July, 2008

Food Guide Pyramid

A great way is to follow a system call the Food Guide Pyramid. The Pyramid is a research-based food guidance system which goes beyond the "basic four groups" to help you put the Dietary Guidelines into action.
The Pyramid and accompanying information will help you choose what and how many foods to eat from each food group to get the nutrients you need without getting too many calories - or too much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, or sodium.

Your Food Guide Pyramid

Your Food Guide Pyramid provides a framework of what to eat each day. It's not a rigid prescription, but a general guide that lets you choose a healthful diet that's right for you from food that are readily available in your supermarket.
The Pyramid calls for eating a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber you need. Your body needs more than 50 different nutrients for good health. Variety also prevents your diet from becoming boring. The way to assure variety - and with it, an enjoyable and nutritious diet - is to choose foods each day from the food groups shown.

How to Make the Food Pyramid Work for You?
How many servings are right for me?

The Pyramid shows a range of servings for each major food group. To lose body fat, you'll need to gradually reduce your food intake down to the lower end of these ranges. Make sure you don't reduce more than one serving per food group per week. However, cutting your calories too quickly can make it difficult to control your appetite and cause your energy level to drop. This can also cause your body to go into a semi-starvation mode and lower its metabolism to try to preserve its fat stores.
Regardless of your body fat goals, remember to eat at least the minimum number of servings in each food group. You need them for the vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, and protein they provide. Just try to choose the foods lowest in fat from each food group.

The servings are intended to be averages over time. They are illustrations of healthful proportions of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet, not rigid prescriptions. Don't hesitate to fluctuate your number of servings from each food group from time to time. This will help you from experiencing plateaus by not allowing your body to become accustomed to the same number of calories each day.

Don't skip meals! Research shows that people who skip meals (especially breakfast) don't lose fat as readily as those who don't skip meals. Try to spread your daily servings from the food groups out over five to six small meals a day. This can help increase your metabolism by requiring additional energy to digest and process food. Frequent meals also maintain your blood sugar level which sustains your energy level and curbs you appetite making you less likely to eat too much later and store the excess calories as fat.

Making The Pyramid Fit Your Goals

Once you've reached your body fat goals, all that is needed to maintain - as opposed to reduce - your body fat is to stabilize the number of servings you eat to the level that's right for you. In other words, after you lose the unwanted body fat, you'll also have the necessary guidelines to control your body fat in the future. If you find you're gaining body fat, simply cut back on your calories by eliminating some of the foods you don't need to provide the fundamental outline for a healthy diet.

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