Five to Thrive

We’ve all heard that it’s important to eat from the five food groups, but the question is what exactly qualifies as a fruit, or dairy, or protein for that matter? This is a breakdown of what counts, how much, and how often we should eat each food group as found in “Nutrition, Concepts and Controversies 14E” by Frances Sizer.


Recommendation: 2-5 servings a day

1 serving of fruit =

  • 1 cup fresh, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice

Fruits to limit include: Fruits with added solid fats or sugars, fruits canned in syrup, fruit juice, punch, -ades, fruit drinks with added sugars, and fried plantains


Recommendation is 3-5 servings a day

1 serving of vegetables =

  • 1 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup cooked legumes
  • 1 cup vegetable juice
  • 2 cups raw, leafy greens

Vegetables to limit include: Baked beans, candied sweet potatoes, coleslaw, French fries, potato salad, refried beans, scalloped potatoes, and tempura (or fried) vegetables

Eat from a variety of vegetables including dark, leafy greens, red and orange veggies, legumes, starchy veggies, and others like mushrooms or green beans


Recommendation is 3 cups a day for EVERYONE

1 cup dairy =

  • 1 cup milk (1% or skim), yogurt (low- or fat-free), or fortified soy milk
  • 1.5 oz natural cheese (e.g. 1 string cheese)
  • 2 oz processed cheese

Dairy to limit includes: 2% or whole milk, 2% or whole-milk produces like cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt, flavored milk with added sugar, custard, frozen yogurt, ice cream, milkshakes, pudding, sherbet, and fortified soy milk.


Recommendation is 6oz of grains daily in a 2,000 kcal diet. Half of the ounces should come from whole grains.

1 oz grains =

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1/2 c cooked rice, pasta, or cereal
  • 1 oz dry pasta or rice
  • 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes
  • 3 cups popped popcorn

Grains to limit include: Biscuits, cookies, cakes, cornbread, crackers, croissants, doughnuts, fried rice, granola, muffins, pastries, pies, presweetened cereals, and taco shells


Recommendation is 0.8 x kg body weight = grams daily protein (so for a 70 kg person, they need 56 g Protein daily).

1 oz protein =

  • 1 oz cooked lean meat, poultry, or seafood
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cooked legumes or tofu
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1/2 oz nuts or seeds

Protein foods to limit include: Foods with solid fats and/or sugars like bacon, baked beans, fried meats, refried beans (unless they’re non- or low-fat), marbled steaks, hot dogs, ground beef, luncheon meats, poultry with skin, sausages, and spare ribs


One of the easiest ways to consume enough fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein in a day is to make sure to eat at least three of the five food groups at each meal. See how many servings of each food group you eat in a day!

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