Let’s face it, in our world today there are so many different discussions and messages being conveyed everywhere about food and nutrition. It often leaves people asking “what is a healthy diet”?
In this article, when I refer to the word diet, I am referring to simply all the foods a person eats. Typically when the word diet is used, many people automatically think of the restrictive fad diets.
Honestly, there is not a one size fits all diet for every single human. Some people have special needs, allergies or preferences; not to mention all the cultural differences when it comes to food, and we can get our needed nutrients from a variety of different foods. But there are some general guidelines you can follow based on current research.
The American government tries their best to inform us what a healthy diet should look like based on that current research.
Do you remember the original food pyramid in the 90’s?
How about the next version in the early 2000’s?
In 2011, the USDA introduced “My Plate”. It was designed to be an easier representation. You simply need to try and aim to make your plate match the example “My plate”.
If you want more specifics then they give you recommendations on how much of each food group you should aim to eat on a daily basis.
The numbers below are ranges because there are different recommendations for each age group and gender. If you want to see the tables then all you need to do is visit the choose My Plate website and click on each food category. For your convenience, I have provided all the individual table links below in my sources section.
Adults should eat about 2 cups of fruit daily, 2-3 cups of veggies, 5-6.5 ounces of protein/equivalent, 5-8 ounces grain/equivalent and 3 cups of dairy/equivalent.
These numbers are just recommendations that should meet most people’s needs for all of the various nutrients. There are always going to be exceptions. For example, depending on your height, weight, age and physical activity level, you may actually need a lot more protein daily then what is recommended here.
Something I have previously discussed in another post is that you also need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. The nutrient content varies from fruit to fruit and veggie to veggie. Therefore, the larger variety that you eat, the more various nutrients you get, and the more likely you are to meet all of your daily nutrition needs.
You should make at least half of your grains be whole grains. Also, choose lean meats such as fish and chicken more often.
You can have a healthy diet being dairy free, vegetarian, or vegan. It is just more challenging to make sure you take in all the nutrients that you need daily.
If you want recommendations and numbers specifically made for you then you should definitely look into meeting with a dietitian one on one. After a brief history intake, we can calculate your estimated needs.
However, with that being said, My Plate is a great place to start if you are trying to figure out how to eat a healthy diet. My motto is that everything should be allowed in your diet in moderation. There really are not too many foods (if any) that I would say never eat!
Another important aspect that the USDA tries to stress is the importance of daily exercise. Exercise is just as important as eating a healthy diet to your overall health. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic. If you currently don’t exercise at all then start slow and aim for 30 minutes a day.
Has anyone heard of “My Plate” before? Do you try to implement it in your meals? I want to hear from you! Drop a comment below!