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Chapter 7. Breaking It Down (continued)

Last stop, protein!

You may be thinking to yourself, where’s the beef? And you can eat it—if you like beef. Try to select lean cuts such as top round and sirloin. You should also eat poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Legumes, you may be wondering? You know them, but perhaps by another name—dry beans or peas such as lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans—see, you do know them!

While meat can be a good source of iron,8 it isn’t best for your body if you eat meat every day because it often contains saturated fat. There are so many protein choices out there—try to vary the ones you eat. Some protein sources are high in fat or prepared in ways that are high in fat, so we need to watch how much we eat and how we prepare them. We’ll talk more about fat in the next chapter, so we’ll stick to the basics of protein choices here.

How much meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes should I be eating? Look at "My Healthy Eating Plan." How much meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes do you need each day? How does this number sound to you? Does it seem like a lot? Or do you usually eat that much each day? Do you usually eat too much each day?

Let’s look at Jennifer’s eating plan:

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Jennifer should eat 2 or fewer servings of lean meat, poultry, or fish and 1 serving of nuts, seeds, or legumes on most days based on her calorie needs. She figured out how to spread this out throughout the day. First, she asked herself which meat, poultry, and fish she likes. She also asked herself which nuts, seeds, and legumes she likes. Jennifer wrote down the following:

Favorite meat, poultry, and fish: chicken, turkey, salmon, and tuna

Favorite nuts, seeds, and legumes: lentils, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, and kidney beans

Next, she thought about how she could plan to eat these foods throughout the day. She is eating approximately 3 oz of turkey at lunch. That’s 1 serving of meat, poultry, or fish. She’s planning to eat 1/2 cup of chickpeas at dinner, which is 1 serving of nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Breakfast: medium banana, fat-free peach yogurt, and coffee with fat-free milk
Lunch: turkey(3 oz = 1 serving), with whole wheat roll; romaine lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with light Italian dressing; medium orange; and unsweetened iced tea
Snack: calcium-fortified soy drink and whole oat squares cereal
Dinner: pasta and bean salad (1 cup of pasta, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 cup chopped vegetables [carrots, green peppers, and onions], with olive oil) and 1 cup of fat-free milk
Dessert: raspberries (1 cup)

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Now, it’s your turn. Write down the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes you like to eat, below.

Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs I like are:

Nuts, seeds, and legumes I like are:

Now, write down when you could eat these foods throughout the day.






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for choosing lean cuts of beef:

Look for cuts that have loin or round in their name such as sirloin and eye of round.

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Congratulations! Now, you have completed one full-day healthy eating plan that is made by you, for you. And guess what? Not only is it healthy, but it is full of foods you already love. You can take the list of foods you have created in each food group and make substitutions in your full-day menu to give yourself more menu options. The more you do this, the easier it will get and the more knowledge you will have. Knowledge is power, and options offer flexibility. You are on your way to a Healthier You.

Part IV of this book gives you recipes and ideas to help you expand your daily choices— when you are ready. We know that it takes time to adjust and refine your diet until you are comfortable. Take it slowly; take it at your own pace. Remember: Small steps lead to big rewards.

In the next chapter, we’ll talk more about adjusting the food choices you make to help you gain even more health benefits from the foods you choose. We’ll talk more about fat—and making healthy-fat food choices—sound interesting? And we’ll talk about sweets and salt. You have learned a lot about food groups and healthy food choices—you should be proud.

Summing it up

Mix up your choices within each food group:

  • Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits.whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. rather than fruit juice, for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 medium orange, and ¼ cup of dried apricots or peaches add up to 2 cups).
  • Vary your veggies. Eat more dark green veggies such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and peas such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2½ cups of vegetables each day.
  • Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk.or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1½ ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk)—every day. For kids ages 2 to 8, it's 2 cups of milk. If you don't or can't consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
  • Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.
  • Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it and take the skin off poultry. And vary your protein choices—with more fish, dry beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

8 Teenage girls and women of childbearing age need additional iron. They can get iron from meat, poultry, and fish, from vegetables such as spinach, and from iron-fortified foods combined with an enhancer of iron absorbtion, such as a vitamin C source (for example, orange juice). For more information, see appendix B-3 and appendix B-9.


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