SolveYourProblem Article Series: Weight Loss & Dieting
How Do I Really Lose Weight?

     

The New USDA Food Pyramid

We’ve come a long way since the days of the 4 food groups. Now the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has replaced that outdated model with the new Pyramid.

The colors on the Pyramid and the foods and recommendations they represent are as follows:

  • Orange is Grains – cereal, crackers, pasta, rice, and whole-grain bread (recommended daily intake is 3 ounces a day);
  • Green is Vegetables (including 100% vegetable juices) – raw or cooked, canned, dehydrated/dried, or frozen, whole, sliced, cubed, chopped, or mashed, vegetables fall into 5 categories:
    - Dark Greens – broccoli, collards, kale, spinach, watercress, etc.;
    - Orange Vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn and butternut squashes, etc.;
    - Dry Beans and Peas – chickpeas, black beans, kidneys, lentils, lima beans, soybeans and soybean products (ie tofu), split peas, etc.;
    - Starchy Vegetables – potatoes, green peas, corn, etc;
    - Other – artichokes, asparagus, beets, cabbage, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and more;
  • Red is Fruits – variety is best here, choosing from fresh, canned, dried, and frozen, and staying light on fruit juices;
  • Green is Oils – nuts, fish, and vegetable oil sources are best; butter, shortening, margarine, and lard are less desirable; out of all the food categories in the Pyramid, eat the least amount of oils, proportionately;
  • Blue is Milk – Calcium alone is such an essential part of a healthy diet that calcium sources should make up just as much an equal portion of your daily diet as Grains, Vegetables, and Fruits; choose low-fat and fat-free products whenever possible; and if you can’t eat regular milk, cheese, and yogurt, make sure to find a source of calcium you can consume;
  • Purple is Meat & Beans – fish, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, most-recommended; next to Oils, Meat and Beans comprise the second-smallest portion of an ideal diet; go easy on proteins, picking low-fat and lean choices whenever possible, and varying cooking methods between baking, broiling, and grilling, steering clear of frying.

The last part of healthy diet according to the USDA (though strangely they don’t give it a color on the Pyramid) is Discretionary Calories. Consider this like the Disposable Income portion of your home budget. The above-mentioned food choices are the essentials. But we all need extra calories beyond the essentials to burn throughout the day in the execution of our various daily activities.

Recommended ways to fulfill your daily requirement for Discretionary Calories is as follows:

  • Eat a greater quantity of foods from any of the aforementioned categories;
  • Choose foods with more calories, like whole milk and cheese, sugars, solid fats, sweetened cereals and yogurt;
  • Add sweeteners and fats to your food, such as salad dressings, sauces, syrups, and butter;
  • Eat or drink fat-heavy foods, such as sodas, candies, and alcohol.

These sources of Discretionary Calories (the top one notwithstanding) probably comprise the very list of items you believe you should cut out of your diet altogether, and to that the USDA says – just cut down. But if you’re getting a substantial and equivalent amount of Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, and Calcium, slightly fewer Proteins, and less Oils still, and if your primary source of Discretionary Calories remains the top choice (more of the good stuff), then there can be a place in your daily diet for what you may consider the “bad” stuff too.

At MyPyramid.gov visitors can use interactive online tools to assess their dietary and physical activity patterns and suggest personalized adjustments a person can make to achieve and maintain their ideal weight.

To lose weight the right way and solve your problem, click here.

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