What the USDA Food Guide Pyramid Means

How to Adapt Food Pyramid Guide to Different Calorie Intakes

In January 2005, the US Department of Agriculture issued new Dietary Guidelines concerning balanced diet healthy eating, and healthy weight management. A new food pyramid was also produced, albeit in a rather vague form. Table 1 shows how to adapt the food pyramid and its associated dietary guidelines to three different diets based on different calorie levels.

TABLE 1. How to Adapt Dietary Guidelines to Three Different Calorie-Controlled Diets

Food Group 1200
Calorie Diet
Calorie Diet
Calorie Diet
Food Serving Sizes: 1 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetable, 1 cup vegetable juice, 2 cups leafy salad greens.
3 servings 4 servings 5 servings
Food Serving Sizes: 1 cup chopped raw or cooked fruit, 1 cup fruit juice.
2 servings 3 servings 4 servings
Food Serving Sizes: These each count as 1 ounce-equivalent (1 serving) of grains: half cup cooked rice, pasta, or cooked cereal; 1 ounce dry pasta or rice; 1 slice bread; 1 small muffin (1 oz); 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal flakes.
4oz 5oz 6oz
Dairy Foods
Food Serving Sizes: These each count as 1 cup (1 serving) of milk: 1 cup fat-free milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces natural cheese such as Cheddar cheese or 2 ounces processed cheese.
2 cups 3 cups 3 cups
Meats/Meat Substitute
Food Serving Sizes: These each count as 1 ounce-equivalent: 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1 egg; quarter cup cooked dry beans or tofu; 1 Tbsp peanut butter; half ounce nuts or seeds.
3oz 5oz 5.5oz
Representing the amounts that are added to foods during processing, meal-preparation cooking, or at the table. Note: Maintain your total intake of fats/oils at between 20-35 percent of calories, with most fat coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, such as oily fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
17g 22g 27g
Discretionary Calorie Allowance
The discretionary calorie allowance is the remaining amount of calories in each food pattern after selecting the specified number of nutrient-dense forms of foods in each food group. The number of discretionary calories assumes that food items in each food group are selected in nutrient-dense forms (that is, forms that are fat-free or low-fat and that contain no added sugars). If as part of your eating plan you choose foods with a higher fat or sugar content than those recommended, these extra calories should be taken from your remaining calorie allowance.
171 Calories 132 Calories 267 Calories

Source: USDA Food Guide (Dietary Guidelines 2005)


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