Eating a healthy balanced meal is important to ensure that you are eating all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that you need to stay healthy. But what does it mean to eat a balanced meal and how do you do it?
There are 6 different types or groups of foods that should be included in your diet.
- Fruits: Includes fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruits and 100% fruit juices.
- Vegetables: Includes any fresh, frozen, raw, canned or dried vegetables or 100% vegetable juice. It is important to eat a variety of different types of vegetables each week: dark green leafy vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables.
- Grains: Includes pasta, rice, oats, cornmeal, flour, tortillas and bread. You should get at least half of your grain intake from whole grain sources (whole wheat flour, bulgur, oatmeal, brown rice) instead of refined grains.
- Proteins: Includes meat, nuts, beans, eggs, soy products, poultry and fish. Whenever possible, your protein should be from low-fat or lean sources.
- Dairy: Dairy foods include cheese, yogurts, milks and milk products. Dairy products should be low-fat or nonfat whenever possible.
- Oils: Includes the vegetable and olive oils, fish and nuts. They are not a food group but still contain healthy nutrients and fats. Oils and fats tend to be higher in calories, so they should be eaten in moderation
The following map gives more information about how much of each food group should be eaten each day. How much you should eat each day depends on your age, gender and how active you are. When in doubt, select foods in a variety of colors to ensure that you are eating many different types of nutrients.