What to Eat: The Four Food Groups
You are what you eat!
As I said, this is a just a preview of what’s to come — down the road and with Viv’s help, we will have some formal meal plans, shopping lists, and other aids. For now, lets just focus foods from the Four Food Groups and the number of servings each day (see What’s a Serving?) and replacing what you normally eat with a healthier choice (unless what you eat now IS a healthy choice). Keep in mind that the “number” of servings may be small, and while variety is good, when considering your daily allowance, you might eat more 2 or 3 servings of a particular food: the secret is in the number of servings per day within each food group.
Be sure record your number of servings each day in each food group.
Whole Grains – 8 servings per day
Whole wheat bread (1 slice = 1 serving), brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and bran cereal (1/2 cup cooked = 1 serving). So if you cook up 1/2 cup of raw oatmeal, you are getting two serving of grain — that’s what I typically have for breakfast. Now, something like bagel (no oil) can be up to 4 servings. So you should be able to get your 8 servings a day with ease. Keep in mind, oat and rice milk count as a grain.
Legumes – 3 servings per day, including at least 1 cup of beans
One serving is 1/2 cup of cooked beans (or canned), 1/2 cup low-fat soy milk or 1 oz. of a veggie meat substitute. Soy milk and almond milk count as legumes.
Vegetables – 4 servings a day (minimum!), at least 1 dark leafy green and 1 raw
A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw. And you can eat as many servings of vegetables a day as you want (with balsamic vinegar or other plant-based dressing). Within the 4 servings each day, at least 1 (could be more) should be a dark leafy green, and at least 1 serving a day (which equals 1 cup) raw vegetables — a nice salad will do it. When you stop and think about, it’s really easy to get your 4 veggies a day and you can easily do more.
Fruits – 3 servings a day, limit juices and give preference to whole fruit
A serving of fruit is 1/2 cup diced or 1 small piece of fruit. All fruits are “on the menu,” but during your 21 day program give preference to the superfoods (high in antioxidents and/or nutrients): berries (all varieties), peaches, mangos, oranges, grapefruit, etc.
Sweet Treats – 1 serving per day
Something for the sweet tooth. Be sure your sweets are fat-free and made from the Four Food Groups — the idea is to keep it around 100 calories, and while we don’t count calories, this gives you a guide because it’s easy to go overboard on sweets. And say you choose a treat from the fruit list, the “treat” is not counted as part of your daily serving . . . it’s a little something extra you can throw in.
A bowl of chilled grapes makes a delicious treat on this diet; sliced apples with almond spread; a fruit smoothie with almond milk; even a bowl of oatmeal at night with a bit of delicious, pure maple syrup and almond milk, makes a creamy, satisfy treat. And, of course, an array of delicious vegan muffins or other baked deliciousness can be part of a meal and used as a treat.
And with the one exception mentioned above, we don’t count calories on this diet and the servings are recommendations only. The one caution is that you NOT go under 1200 calories. It’s easy to compute the calories if you keeping track of the number of serving you eat. And as long as you are eating from the Four Food Groups and getting a variety of across the board, a little more of this and a little less of that is okay. But when first starting out — for the first 3 weeks on the diet, it’s best to stick to the recommended number of servings per day.
And if by some chance, if you start adding a pound or two, which isn’t likely to happen if you’re eating right, you can cut back on the grains and fruit and up the veggies. It’s about balance and your body will let you know.
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