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Nutrition Basics Index
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Groups
Putting It Together
What is a Serving?
Closer Look at Fats & Sugar
Rate Your Diet
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Recommended Dietary Allowances
All about Vitamins
All about Minerals
What is a Serving?
The amount of food that counts as a serving is listed below. If you eat a larger portion, count it as more than one serving. For example, 1/2 cup of cooked pasta counts as one serving in the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group. If you eat one cup of pasta, that would be two servings. If you eat a smaller portion, count it as part of a serving.

WHAT COUNTS AS A SERVING?
Food Groups
Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta (6-11 servings)
1 slices bread 1 ounces ready to-eat cereal 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta
 
Vegetables (3-5 servings)
1 cup raw leafy vegetable 1/2 cup other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw 3/4 cup vegetable juice
Fruit (2-4 servings)
1 medium apple, banana, orange 1/2 cup chopped, cooked, or canned fruit 3/4 cup of fruit juice
Milk, Yoghurt and Cheese (2-3 servings)
1 cup of milk or yoghurt
 
1-1/2 oz of natural cheese 2 oz processed cheese
Meat and Alternatives (2-3 servings)
2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish 1/2 cup of cooked beans or 1 egg counts as 1 oz meat 2 tbsp peanut butter or 1/3 cup nuts counts as 1 oz meat
Isn't 6 to 11 servings of bread and cereals a lot?

It may sound like a lot, but it really isn't. For example, a small bowl of cereal and 1 slice of bread for breakfast is two servings. A sandwich for lunch is another 2 servings. And if you have a cup of rice or pasta at dinner, that is two more servings. A snack of 3 or 4 small plain biscuits adds yet another serving. So now you've had 7 servings. It adds up more quickly than you think!

Do I need to measure servings?

No. Use servings only as a general guide. For mixed foods, do the best you can to estimate the food group servings of the main ingredients. For example, a generous serving of pizza would count in the bread and cereal group (crust) and the milk group (cheese) and the vegetable group (tomato, peppers, mushrooms, etc). A helping of beef stew would count in the meat group and the vegetable group. Both have some fat - in the cheese on the pizza and in the gravy in the stew.

What if I want to lose or gain weight?

The best and simplest way to lose weight is to increase your physical activity and reduce the fat and sugars in your diet. But be sure to eat at least the lowest number of servings from the four major food groups in the Healthy Diet Pyramid. You need them for the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein they provide. Just try to pick the lowest fat choices from the food groups.
To gain weight, increase the amounts of foods you eat from all of the food groups. If you have lost weight unexpectedly, you should see your doctor.
Take A Closer Look at Fats & Added Sugar in the next section.

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