Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Group Fruit Group Vegetables Group Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts Group Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group Fats, Oils and Sweets

Food  Pyramid

No, It's not some ancient Egyptian nutrition secret. The Food Pyramid, developed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, gives you the building blocks to create a balanced, healthy diet and get all the nutrients you need.

Click a food group, and find out how much to eat to keep your body happy. Think of the Pyramid as a key to healthy eating, not some dusty indecipherable hieroglyph.

Food Pyramid


Fats, Oils and Sweets

Go easy. You don't have to be a nutritionist to know that jelly beans and butter are best in moderation. The guideline here is simply to limit how much salad dressing, oil and other fats and sweet treats you eat each day. Try half a ladle of salad dressing at the salad bar, or one tablespoon of sour cream on your potato.



Milk, Yogurt and Cheese

2 to 3 servings a day. One serving (one and one-half ounces) of cheese is about the size of six dice or three dominoes. A serving of milk or yogurt is one cup (or one small container of yogurt). Unfortunately for us all, frozen yogurt and ice cream count in the Sweets group.




3 to 5 servings a day. If you're talking leafy-green veggies like spinach, kale or collard greens, put a baseball-sized portion (one cup) on your plate. Half a baseball will do it for veggies like green beans, carrots and Brussels sprouts. Since that equals about eight green beans, 10 carrot slices or three Brussels sprouts, it should be easy to get a few servings at a time. A small (6-ounce) glass of tomato or other vegetable juice works too.



Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs and Nuts

2 to 3 servings a day. A deck of cards or a small fist describes what one serving (three ounces) of meat, fish or poultry looks like. A 1 1/2 cup portion of cooked beans make a great stand-in for three ounces of meat. Two tablespoons of peanut butter—about the size of a golf ball—are a third of a serving, but three scoops on your PB&J would pack a calorie and fat punch. Likewise, you'd have to eat a cup of nuts or three eggs to equal three ounces of meat. That doesn't mean you shouldn't eat them, just don't choose them for every serving.




2 to 4 servings a day. Picture filling half a baseball with fruit. That's all it takes to get one half-cup serving. Whole fruits only need to be about the size of a tennis ball, and a small (6-ounce) glass of juice counts as a serving too.

A large glass of OJ and a big banana will fill your daily quota, but fruit is so easy to add to everything you might as well eat a couple of servings at each meal. Put a handful of raisins in your salad, toss some blueberries into your cereal or add apples and pears to your stuffing.



Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta

6 to 11 servings a day. It's easier to eat your share than it sounds. Your bagel would only have to be the size of a hockey puck to equal one serving (one ounce) of bread. Most bakery and supermarket bagels are more like Frisbees than hockey pucks, which means you'll probably get three servings from your bagel. Likewise, one-half cup of cooked cereal, pasta or rice equals one serving, and is about the size of a cupcake wrapper or a scoop of ice cream. The same goes for an ounce of dried cereal. So fill up your bowl with noodles, oatmeal or whole-grain cereal and you're already halfway there.



Source: USDA, The Food Guide Pyramid, Home and Garden Bulletin No. 252
USDA, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Fourth Edition, 1995
American Dietetic Association,

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