There are many important ways to stay healthy and a good tool to assist in helping you create good eating habits is the food pyramid.
As some of you may know the food pyramid is made up of different categories that tell us what types of foods we should have in our daily diet. There are five major categories and in some cases many say that there are actually six categories if you consider fats and oils. I am going to tell you about the five most important categories that can jump-start a healthy lifestyle.
The 1st of these categories is the Grain group. This group is broken down into two subcategories, one of which is whole grains and the other is refined grains. Whole grains are filled with the full grain kernel. Things that we eat like brown rice, whole cornmeal and oatmeal are examples of whole grains.
Refined grains are created from whole grains in a process that makes them have a finer texture. This process also helps them keep longer. The downside to refined grains is the process strips out all the healthy stuff like iron and dietary fiber, which is good for healthy digestion. By eating refined grains instead of whole grains you also lose a lot of important B Vitamins.
The next category on the food pyramid is the Vegetables. They actually have five subcategories, which I was a little amazed to find out myself. The first of these subcategories is the Dark Green Vegetables and some examples of these are broccoli, spinach and dark green leafy lettuce.
Another subcategory is the Orange vegetables which include things such as carrots, sweet potatoes and even pumpkin. The third subcategory is Dry beans and peas. Some examples of this group are black beans, lima beans or even soy beans. Another subcategory is the one made of the Starchy vegetables such as corn and green peas.
The 5th and final subcategory is actually considered to be other vegetables. This consists of things such as cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and onions, just to name a few.
The third slot on the pyramid consists of fruits and any 100% fruit juice. It is important when choosing juice to make sure that you get the one that says 100% real fruit juice. The juice made from concentrate does not provide the same nutrients and has a lot of added sugars that are not necessary because most fruit is already sweet in taste. There are many commonly eaten fruits that fall into this category such as, apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries and oranges.
This group is can be broken down into four different subcategories which are cheeses, milk, yogurt and milk based desserts. Certain dairy foods provide calcium which our bodies need to make our bones strong and healthy. Dairy foods that do not have calcium or are very low in the calcium they do provide are not the best choice for us to be eating. Good choices of Dairy products that do provide us with healthy amounts of calcium are natural cheeses, liquid milk and yogurts.
The last spot on the pyramid goes to the protein group which consists of foods like poultry, dry beans and even fish. In order to get the most protein from our food we should opt for lean or low fat items. Some examples of protein enriched foods are beef, veal, chicken, liver, fish, chicken or duck eggs, nuts and even seeds. Protein is a good source of energy and is really heart healthy for us at any age.
In order to maintain a long and healthy life eating the food from the pyramid is essential. Eating healthy and making good diet and exercise choices will help your body physically and mentally.
So make sure you make healthy choices, stay strong and remember that not all bodies are the same and when considering what nutritional guide to follow it is important to discuss your options with a doctor and they can determine what is right for you based on your age, gender and the amount of physical activity you participate in.