Healthy choices

| February 01, 2006

Percent daily values
Based on a 2,000- or 2,500-calorie diet, the percent daily values measure how much of each value you should consume in a day. Five percent or less of the value is low, and 20 percent or more is high.

Protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber
High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have swept the nation, but nutritionists caution against a one-sided diet that does not incorporate all of the food groups. Although a low-carb diet may promote rapid weight loss, eat a well-balanced diet from all food groups to maintain health and weight. A diet high in fiber also promotes regularity and weight control.

How Much?
How do you know how many calories you should eat in a day, and how much to eat of each food group? And what are food groups, anyway? Calorie counting and food measuring may seem tedious, but has the answers to all your diet questions. Based on the redesigned food pyramid, the website helps you decide which eating plan is right for you, based on level of activity, weight, height, gender and age.

The serving amounts for each group have changed, and the website lists foods to eat for each group. For example, the vegetable group is divided into five subgroups, based on nutritive value. Fruits and vegetables have their own group now, and selection tips in each group contain advice on what to eat and how to eat it.

Dietary Guidelines on the website provide insight on a healthy diet, and the interactive part of the site, My Pyramid Plan, allows you to plan your own healthy diet based on caloric needs and the food pyramid. It’s simple, free and might even be fun.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a burden, but good food choices are essential to maintaining weight and energy. Seek out something healthy and new, even on those fast-food menus. Romaine and spinach salad, anyone?
–Rachel Telehany

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