B E C O M I N G V E G E T A R I A N:
Why You Should Do This
and How to Make the Transition
What is a healthy diet?
Healthful diets contain the amounts of essential nutrients and calories needed to prevent nutritional deficiencies and excesses. Healthful diets also provide the right balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein to reduce risks for chronic diseases, and are a part of a full and productive lifestyle. Such diets are obtained from a variety of foods that are available, affordable, and enjoyable. Foods contain combinations of nutrients and other healthful substances. No single food can supply all nutrients in the amounts you need. For example, oranges provide vitamin C but no protein; soy beans provide protein but very little vitamin C. One way to make sure you get all of the nutrients and other substances needed for health, is by choosing the recommended number of daily servings from each of the major food groups displayed in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, or better yet, read on.
NOTE: Although the USDA recommendations are a vast improvement over the standard American diet, we highly recommend a vegetarian diet for meeting overall nutritional needs, maintaining excellent health and weight. More on the benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle later.
The basis of a healthy diet is eating a wide variety of foods. Every day, according to the USDA, you should try to eat:
- 6 to 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice, or pasta. One serving equals one slice of bread, about 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.
- 3 to 5 servings of vegetables. One serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, or 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or raw.
- 2 to 4 servings of fruit. One serving equals one medium apple, banana, or orange; 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit; or 3/4 cup of fruit juice.
- 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. One serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese (such as Cheddar), or 2 ounces of processed cheese (such as American). Choose low-fat or fat-free products most often.
- 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, or nuts. One serving equals 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry without skin, or fish. You should eat no more than 5 to 7 ounces per day. One half cup of cooked dry beans or 1/2 cup of tofu counts as 1 ounce of meat. Two tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of nuts counts as 1 ounce of lean meat.
What is a serving size?
You can not always measure your food. Here are some ways to help you estimate serving sizes.
- 1/2 cup of rice or pasta = size of ice cream scoop
- 1 cup of salad greens = size of a baseball
- 1/2 cup of chopped fruit or vegetables = size of a lightbulb
- 1 1/2 ounces of cheese = size of four dice
- 3 ounces of meat or fish = size of a deck of cards or casette tape
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter = size of a ping pong ball
Quick tips for healthy eating - next >>>