Family Food Smarts :: Healthy Lessons from the FoodGuide Pyramid

Every five years, the federal government releases the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Uncle Samís prescription for healthy eating. A panel of top medical professionals, nutritionists, and fitness specialists prepares the guidelines taking into account the latest scientific knowledge.

Itís a goldmine of information on how to live well. Hereís a closer look at some of the key recommendations in the 2005 guidelines.

Calories Count

If you eat 100 more calories each day than you burn, youíll gain one pound a month or about 10 pounds a year, according to the guidelines. Familiarize yourself with how many calories you should consume each day. The number varies according to your age, activity level and other factors. You can visit, the online, interactive version of the guidelines to determine your calorie needs.

Exercise Daily

Unfortunately, more than half of Americans do not get the exercise they should. The guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week to promote health and well-being. (Moderate means walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing or other activities done at a pace where you feel some exertion but can still keep up a conversation comfortably.)

For people who want to prevent unhealthy weight gain or have shed pounds and want to keep them off, 60 to 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day is advised.

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants. The guidelines say to eat two cups of fruit and two-and-a-half cups of vegetables if youíre on a 2.000-calorie-a-day-diet.

Piling your plate high with fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen or canned—can decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The potassium in these foods can help control blood pressure. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get all the health benefits they have to offer.

Make Half Your Grains Whole

The guidelines emphasize eating whole grains such as whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice and popcorn. These foods are highly nutritious, low in fat and can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight.

The advice is to eat at least three one-ounce servings of whole grain food each day. An ounce is about the same as a slice of bread, a cup of dry cereal or a half a cup of cooked rice or pasta.

Get Plenty of Calcium

Fat-free or low fat milk or milk-based foods are a terrific source of calcium, a mineral that plays an important role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. The guidelines call for three cups a day for adults and children over age nine, and two cups a day for younger children.

If you donít or canít consume milk, consume lactose free-milk products and calcium- fortified foods and beverages, the guidelines say.

FoodFit Chef Bonnie Moore has created this delicious recipe that you can adapt to fit the seasons. It will to help you weave more whole grains into your diet, as well as wholesome veggies.

Brown Rice Pilaf for all Seasons

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