Explanation of USDA Food Guide Food Groups and Subgroups: Part Two (1)
By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.
The federal government''s Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every five years by a panel of health professionals to reflect the most up-to-date scientific and medical knowledge. The new guidelines emphasize that calories do count; daily exercise is essential to maintain health; choosing a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is important to ensure you get a multitude of nutrients; eating half of your grain servings from whole-grain products will give you a bigger nutritional bang; choosing calcium-rich dairy products daily and emphasizing lean meats, poultry and fish are all wise choices.
Translating this information to a plateful of food is the challenge. Here are some basic guidelines that will help.
Fruits include all fresh, frozen, dried fruits and fruit juices. In developing the food patterns, only fruit and juices with no added sugars or fats were used. (See “What is the Discretionary Caloric Allowance?” if products with added sugars and fats are consumed.)
The following each count as 1/2 cup (1 serving) of fruit:
In developing the food patterns, only vegetables with no added fats or sugars were used.
(See “What is the Discretionary Caloric Allowance?” if products with added sugars and fats are consumed).
The following each count as 1/2 cup (1 serving) of vegetable:
In developing the food patterns, only grains in low-fat and low-sugar forms were used. (See “What is the Discretionary Caloric Allowance?” if products with added sugars and fats are consumed).
The following each count as 1-ounce equivalent (1 serving) of grains:
MEAT, POULTRY, FISH, DRY BEANS, EGGS AND NUTS (MEATS & BEANS)
This includes all meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds. Most choices would be lean or low fat. (See “ What is the Discretionary Caloric Allowance?” if higher-fat products are consumed). Dry beans, peas and soybean products are considered part of this group as well as the vegetable group, but should only be counted in one group.
The following each count as 1-ounce equivalent:
MILK, YOGURT AND CHEESE (MILK)
This includes all milks, yogurts, dairy desserts, cheese (except cream cheese), including lactose-free and lactose-reduced products. Most choices should be fat-free or low-fat. In developing the food patterns, only fat-free milk was used. (See “What is the Discretionary Caloric Allowance?” if low-fat, reduced-fat or whole milk or milk products that contain added sugars are consumed). Calcium-fortified soy beverages are an option for those who want a non-dairy calcium choice.
The following each count as 1 cup (1 serving) of milk:
(Note: Discretionary calories must be counted for all choices except fat-free milk).
WHAT IS THE DISCRETIONARY CALORIC ALLOWANCE?
The discretionary caloric allowance is the remaining amount of calories in each caloric level after nutrient-dense forms of each food group are selected. If you are trying to lose weight you may not want to use discretionary calories. If you want to maintain your weight, a certain number of discretionary calories are available in case you want to increase the amount of food selected from one or more food groups; consume foods that are not in the lowest fat form or that contain added sugars; add oil, fat or sugars to food; or consume alcohol.
The number of discretionary calories assumes that the food items in each food group are selected in nutrient-dense forms. Solid fat and sugar calories need to be counted as discretionary calories as in the following examples:
Total discretionary calories should be limited to the amounts shown in Table 1 at each caloric level. The number of discretionary calories is lower in the 1,600-calorie pattern than in the 1,000, 1,200 and 1,400 patterns because these lower-calorie patterns are designed to meet the needs of children 2 to 8 years old. The nutrient goals for the 1,600-calorie pattern are set to meet the needs of adult women, which are higher and require more calories.
WHAT TYPES OF FATS ARE ACCEPTABLE?
The amount of solid fats, or oils, in Table 1 represent about seven to eight percent of the calories from saturated fat. Foods in each group represent the lowest fat form, such as fat-free milk and skinless chicken. Solid fats shown in Table 1 represent the amounts that may be added in cooking or at the table and fats consumed when higher fat items are selected from the food groups (i.e. whole milk instead of fat-free milk, chicken with skin, or biscuits instead of bread), without exceeding the recommended limits on saturated fat intake. Choose solid fats that contain as little trans fat as possible. One tablespoon equals approximately 14 grams.
TRANSLATING THE USDA FOOD GUIDE INTO A PLATEFUL OF FOOD
(based on an 1800-calorie diet)
(1). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. United States Department of Agriculture.
Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a nutritionist with a master''s degree in clinical nutrition. She is a registered dietitian with over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy active lifestyles to consumers. She is also the publisher and nutrition editor of KHF and a runner, cyclist and hiker.