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The amount of each food group that you should eat depends on your daily calorie allowance.  The number of calories that you need each day depends on your gender, age, activity level, and whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain your current weight.

For example, a 14-year-old male (average height and weight) who is sedentary (less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day) needs about 2000 calories per day to maintain his weight.  These calories can be divided among the food groups as follows*:

  • 6 ounces of grains
  • 2 ½ cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 3 cups of milk (or equivalents)
  • 5 ½ ounces of meat & beans

Depending on your choices from the food groups, you may include additional oils or *discretionary calories for extra fats, sugars, or larger amounts of the 5 food groups.

To help you understand the recommended amounts from each food group, here are the food groups’ measures and their equivalents.

Grains: 1 ounce = 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereal

Vegetables: 1 cup = 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup of vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens

Fruits: 1 cup = 1 cup of fruit, 1 cup of 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit

Milk: 1 cup = 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese, or 2 ounces of processed cheese

Meat & Beans: 1 ounce = 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked dry beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds

* Discretionary – having or using the ability to act or decide according to your own judgment.

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