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For most of us, diet truly is a four-letter word. Why? Because the typical diet doesn't represent realistic lifestyle change. Regardless of what the supermarket tabloids promise, two weeks of deprivation dieting cannot make up for years of out-of-control eating, poor nutrition and zero exercise. One of my past students said, "diet describes how I feel...drop the 't' and I feel like I'm going to die."

No wonder statistics show over and over that the success rate of diets is barely five percent.

95 percent of diets don't work. Why the relapse after dieting? Some claim it's your body's inclination to return to its natural set point weight, most say it's impossible to stay with diet plans, and others blame fat genes. Traditional low calorie dieting can break down muscle mass, the metabolically active tissue.

There is no quick fix for those years of diet abuse but the good news is that losing weight and controlling your weight are not about diet and deprivation. If your mouth is hanging open in disbelief, it's true. Experts agree that the winning combination is a healthy nutrition plan plus a fitness program full of exercise and activities. Eating a reasonable amount of calories paired with exercise is the key to unlock the door to successful weight loss that stays off. Start today by eliminating the word "diet" from your vocabulary totally and begin to focus on nutrition and eating real foods in realistic, enjoyable portions.

Here's help for the days you want to design your own menus...

Structures need a strong foundation to support the many ravages of daily life. It's no different for our bodies, says the American Dietetic Association in their March 2000-2007 press releases for National Nutrition Month®. Think of your body as a structure with foundations and support beams. By supplying our body foundations with a healthy base of foods each day, we can be certain that they are getting the vitamins, minerals, energy, and other healthful substances from foods your body needs each day.

Build a healthy base by making whole grain foods, fruits, and vegetables your foundation. "Build a nutrition coalition with nutritious foods according to the Food Guide Pyramid. You'll have so much more energy when it is given the nutrients it needs to enhance your life," says registered dietitian Jeff Hampl, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "I can't think of a better way to support the body's foundation than to include these foods for healthful eating."

1300-Calorie Plan

  • 5 vegetable servings
  • 4 fruit servings
  • 3 ounces meat/fish/poultry servings, or the equivalent as nuts/legume
  • 3 milk/yogurt/cheese servings
  • 5 bread/cereal/rice/pasta servings
  • 2 fats/added sugars/sweets servings (where one serving is 50 calories)

1500-Calorie Plan

  • 5 vegetable servings
  • 4 fruit servings
  • 4 ounces meat/fish/poultry servings, or the equivalent as nuts/legume
  • 4 milk/yogurt/cheese servings
  • 6 bread/cereal/rice/pasta servings
  • 2 fats/added sugars/sweets servings (where one serving is 50 calories)

1700-Calorie Plan

  • 5 vegetable servings
  • 4 fruit servings
  • 4 ounces meat/fish/poultry servings, or the equivalent as nuts/legume
  • 4 milk/yogurt/cheese servings
  • 8 bread/cereal/rice/pasta servings
  • 2 fats/added sugars/sweets servings (where one serving is 50 calories)

1900-Calorie Plan

  • 5 vegetable servings
  • 4 fruit servings
  • 5 ounces meat/fish/poultry servings, or the equivalent as nuts/legume
  • 4 milk/yogurt/cheese servings
  • 10 bread/cereal/rice/pasta servings
  • 2 fats/added sugars/sweets servings (where one serving is 50 calories)

2100-Calorie Plan

  • 5 vegetable servings
  • 4 fruit servings
  • 6 ounces meat/fish/poultry servings, or the equivalent as nuts/legume
  • 4 milk/yogurt/cheese servings
  • 11 bread/cereal/rice/pasta servings
  • 3 fats/added sugars/sweets servings (where one serving is 50 calories)

diabeticsSERVING SIZE HELP

  • BREAD, CEREAL, RICE, PASTA:
    Choose whole grains whenever possible. Whole wheat breads, oatmeal, rye, barley and corn provide more nutrients and fiber than the refined white products. These foods generally provide 80-100 calories per serving:
    • 1 slice of bread
    • 1/2 bagel or hamburger bun
    • 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal
    • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as oatmeal, grits, cream or wheat
    • 1/2 cup rice, or pasta
    • 1/2 cup corn or potato
    • 1/2 cup barley
    • 1 medium sized tortilla shell
    • 4-6 low fat crackers
  • FRUITS
    Color is the key word with fruits. Fresh, colorful fruits provide protective plant properties called phytochemicals are beneficial to the body. Wash and eat the skin whenever possible. Servings are approximately 60-100 calories each.
    • 1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear, peach, etc. (medium size fruit)
    • 2 small plums or apricots (small fruits)
    • 1/2 cup berries
    • 1/2 cup of chopped or cooked fruit
    • 1/2 cup canned fruit - packed in its own juice
    • 3/4 cup of fruit juice
    • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • VEGETABLES
    Again, the more color the better! Look for bright orange, yellow, green, purple and red vegetables. Studies show protective properties in the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their beautiful, brilliant colors! These foods are also low in fat and high in fiber. A general rule of thumb is that 1/2 to 1 cup veggies is under 50 calories.
    • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
    • 1/2 cup of other vegetables - broccoli, onions, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, yellow or zucchini squash, asparagus, etc - cooked or chopped raw
    • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice
    • 1 carrot
    • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cup cooked dry peas or beans
  • MILK, YOGURT, AND CHEESE

    Separated from the other "meat" or protein group due to the emphasis on calcium. Traditionally regular high fat dairy products are included here. Choose low fat or fat free alternatives when possible. Servings from this group can provide anywhere from 60-150 calories depending on fat content.
    • 1 cup of milk (preferably nonfat)
    • 1 cup yogurt (preferably low-fat -- regular fruited yogurts can contain up to 250 calories)
    • 1 1/2 - 2 ounces of processed cheese - Cheddar, American, Swiss, etc.
    • 1/4 -1/2 cup cottage cheese (preferably nonfat or 1-2 percent fat)
    • 1/2 cup pudding (preferably made with skim or soy milk)
    • 1 cup fortified low-fat soy milk
  • MEAT, POULTRY, FISH, DRY BEANS, EGGS AND NUTS
    The primary protein group is traditionally thought of as the meat group but contains a vast array of different foods. Again, the key is to choose lean and extra lean products and the lessed processed the better for you. Since the group is huge and the calorie range is wide and can vary from 75-300 per serving. Check food labels for more specific information on calories.
    • 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat including beef, poultry - the less processed the better
    • 3-5 oz fish or other seafood
    • 1/2 - 1 cup cooked beans
    • 1 egg, 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute
    • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (counts as 1 ounce of lean meat)
    • 2-3 oz. tofu
    • 2-3 oz. tempeh
    • 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds
  • FATS AND OILS
    Added fats/oils include oil used in cooking, margarine/butter/salad dressing/mayonnaise used as a condiment as well as cream cheese and sour cream. Try to limit all of these "added fats" to 1-2 tablespoons daily. Just as important, choose healthier fats, such as olive and canola oil.
  • SWEETS
    These foods typically are calorie dense and nutrient poor and are not emphasized on the pyramid. If you do drink sweet drinks or eat alot of sweet foods, set a limit on your treats. Treats can be part of a balanced diet - the key is moderation and portion control!

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