According to the USDA (http://www.pyramid.gov/guidelines/index.html):
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans give science-based advice on food and physical activity choices for health. The 2005 edition of the Dietary Guidelines remain the current guidelines until the 2010 edition is released.
What is a "Healthy Diet"?
The Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy diet as one that
* Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
* Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and
* Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
-The recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines and in MyPyramid are for the general public over 2 years of age. MyPyramid is not a therapeutic diet for any specific health condition. Individuals with a chronic health condition should consult with a health care provider to determine what dietary pattern is appropriate for them.
-MyPyramid helps individuals use the Dietary Guidelines to:
* Make smart choices from every food group.
* Find balance between food and physical activity.
* Get the most nutrition out of calories.
* Stay within daily calorie needs.
Not only does the food guide pyramid help you create a healthy diet but it teaches you how to create a balanced diet.
Rather than focusing on "good or bad" foods, take some time to find out how you can make the most out of your diet by planning healthy and balanced meals.
Here's a great example of planning a plate for a balanced meal:
Depending on your diet, you may find yourself needing to modify the food guide pyramid to fit your personal and physical lifestyle needs and requirements.
For example, here is an example of the vegetarian food guide pyramid:
Here's the asian food guide pyramid:
Here's the vegan food guide pyramid:
Here's a Mediterranean "diet" pyramid:
While it is important that you find what works for your body in an effort to reach your weight loss/maintenance and fitness goals, I must stress that the US Dietary Guidelines (updated every 5 years by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS)) provide authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. These are not guidelines intended to help you loose weight quickly or to help you set a PR in your upcoming race. Here's a link to a press release for the THE APPOINTMENT OF THE 2010 DIETARY GUIDELINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE:
If you want to live a healthy and balanced life, it is important that you eat in a way that supports a healthy and balanced life.
Does this plate look familiar?
Although the USDA Food Pyramid will give you the template of a fairly healthy diet you need to make the necessary changes in your life in an effort to plan and prepare
healthy and balanced meals. Obviously, this won't happen overnight. If you expect yourself to accept new eating habits overnight, you will find yourself frustrated. If you expect yourself to stick to unrealistic eating habits, not supporting an active and healthy lifestyle, you are going to find yourself hungry, moody and restricted.
Over the years, I have learned what works best for me in my vegetarian diet. I can honestly say that I have worked really towards creating a healthy diet (that I enjoy) that works for my active lifestyle for the past 4 years. Despite a few ups and downs per year, I understand the what's AND the why's of my diet. I find that many athletes just focus on what they should and shouldn't eat in their diet and forget why they do or don't need it (or emphasize/de-emphasize).
As you know, I strongly encourage a more-plant based diet. However, this is just the base of a healthy diet to support a quality-filled life of activity and good health. I believe that lean/low fat protein in addition to whole grains and healthy fats are vital in a successful and maintainable diet.
This plate is from a diabetes website.
I am not a diabetic but if I had to create a model of my meal plate, this is probably the closest example. Sure, the whole grain section may overlap on the veggies/fruits section, especially when my training volume/intensity increases but overall, this is how I like to plan my meals. Yes-even as an endurance athlete, I believe my body does best with very little added sugars and lots of fruits and veggies. I believe my body perform's best during the day and during workouts when I consume a variety of vitamins and minerals from fruits and veggies. Additionally, my body requires lots of low fat protein in order to provide my body with essential amino acids to keep my muscles and brain happy. As for whole grains/fibrous foods and healthy fats, I couldn't be a healthy woman without them!
My only change in this plate would be the "fat" section since I always try to add in some type of healthy fat to my meals in an effort to keep me satisfied and provide flavor.
What is your diet like? Have you ever given thought to planning your meals rather than just eating for calories?