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Surrender To The Spell Of The Pyramid

Food in general has the distinction of being probably the first thing we all think about in the mornings before our feet hit the floor. The main reason for this is we cannot survive without it. There are four major food groups arranged in what is commonly called the food pyramid. At the base of the food pyramid lies the group that contains breads, grains, pastas and cereals. These foods provide complex carbohydrates, which are an important source of energy, especially for a low-fat meal plan. You can make various low-fat choices from foods in this group.

You will need 6 to 11 servings of these foods in a day. Try to eat whole-grain breads, cereal and pasta for most of your servings from this group. Whole-grain foods are less processed and retain more valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber than foods made with white flour. When you purchase whole-grain foods look for breads and pastas with "stone ground whole-wheat flour" as the first ingredient, because some "wheat" breads may be white breads with only caramel coloring added.

The next group in the pyramid is fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients. Many are excellent sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate or potassium. They are low in fat and sodium and high in fiber. The Food Pyramid suggests 3 to 5 servings of vegetables, and 2 to 4 servings of fruits each day. Count only 100% fruit juice as a fruit, and limit juice consumption. Many commercial bottled juices come in containers that hold more than 2 servings - which can add lots of sugar and calories to your daily diet. Punches, ades and most fruit "drinks" have only a bit of juice and lots of sugar. Fruit sodas are sugary drinks and they do not count as fruit, either.

Up next on the pyramid are proteins such as beans, eggs, fish, and meat. Meat, poultry and fish supply protein, zinc and iron. Non-meat foods such as dried peas and beans also provide many of these nutrients. The Food Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings of cooked poultry, fish or meat. Each serving should be between 2 and 3 ounces. Pick lean meat, fish and dry beans and peas often because these are lowest in fat.

Continuing on we come to dairy products. Products made with milk provide protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. The Food Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings each day. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, a teenager or a young adult age 24 or under, try to have 3 servings. Most others should have 2 servings every day. Go light on high-fat cheese and ice cream. Choose non-fat milk and yogurt and cheeses made from skim milk because they are lower in fat.

Lastly are sweets and fats. These make up the Food Pyramids smallest part, so the fats and sweets in the top of the Food Pyramid should comprise the smallest percentage of your daily diet. The foods at the top of the food pyramid should be eaten moderately because they provide calories but not much in the way of nutrition. These foods include salad dressings, oils, butter, cream, margarine, sugars, soft drinks, candies and sweet desserts.

The author teaches people how to eat in a healthy manner and nurture their bodies without feeling deprived.

Rose Marie Allesando is passionate about food and is the webmaster of Food A to Z

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