Too often when we hear “diet” we immediately think of all the foods we should probably cut out. We think, “I need to stop eating sugar,” or, “I need to go fat-free everything.” Even according to Google, to “diet” means, “To restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.”
This is our first problem. The entire perception of “diet” has a negative connotation.
In my opinion, diet would be better defined as the foods we try to habitually include on a daily basis rather than the foods we’re trying to eliminate.
I remember back in the day in Elementary school when I saw this food pyramid in the lunchroom:
I was so excited to see that, not only are fruits and vegetables good for you, but you need dairy, grains, protein, even some fats and oils! How could this be?
Today things look a little bit different:
But it’s much easier to conceptualize. If our plates looked like this, or we hit at least three of the five food groups at each meal, we’d have a much more well-rounded diet, and less-rounded body.
According to the USDA, here are the recommended amounts of each food group that we should hit each day:
Fruits – 2 cups a day
Vegetables – 4-5 cups a day
(2 cups of leafy greens counts as 1 cup of vegetables)
Dairy – 3 cups a day
Protein – 5.5 oz. to 6.5 oz. a day
(Protein doesn’t only have to be meat. 1 oz. of protein is the equivalent of 1 Tbsp of peanut butter, 1 egg, or 1/2 oz. of nuts and seeds. )
Grains – 3 oz. to 4 oz. a day, with at least half being whole grains.
(1 oz. of grains is the equivalent of 1 slice of bread, 1/2 Cup cooked rice or pasta, or 1 Cup of cereal).
So, let’s stop the negative stigma that diet is the chopping block for our favorite foods, but rather the guidelines to helping us get enough of all five food groups every day.