What to Eat

A Guide to Healthy Food Choices

How much food should I eat?

This depends on your calorie level. Find your daily calories on the attached chart. Then, read how much to eat from each food group. If you don't know how many calories you should eat, ask your health care provider. Or, go to choosemyplate.gov.

Try to limit fats and sugars. If you eat mostly no-fat or low-fat foods, you can have a small amount of "extra calories" each day. These calories can come from foods like a small candy bar or a bag of potato chips.

For example, if you need 1,800 calories a day:

  • Eat at least 1 1/2 cups fruit, 2 1/2 cups vegetables, 6 ounces of grains, 5 ounces of meats and beans and 3 cups of milk daily.

  • Limit your oils (fats) to 5 teaspoons a day.

  • You may eat an extra 195 calories a day.

Fruits

These include all fresh, frozen, canned and dried fruits. Whole fruits are better than fruit juices. Eat ____ servings of fruit each day. One serving fresh, frozen or canned fruit is the same as:

  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice

  • ¼ cup dried fruit

  • 1 medium fruit, raw

Vegetables

You may choose any fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables. Vegetable juice is fine, but whole vegetables are better. Eat ____ servings of vegetables each day. One serving is the same as:

  • ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables

  • ½ cup vegetable juice

  • 1 cups raw leafy greens

Grains

Grains include all foods made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal and barley. At least half of your grains should be whole grains (bread with fiber instead of white bread, for example). You should eat ____ ounces of grains each day. One ounce is the same as:

  • ½ cup cooked cereal or grits

  • 1 cup cold cereal

  • ½ cup cooked pasta or rice

  • 1 slice bread

  • ½ English muffin

  • 6 saltine crackers

  • 1 tortilla (6 inches across)

  • 1 waffle square

  • 1 pancake (4 inches across)

Meats and beans

Aside from beef and other meats, this food group includes poultry (chicken and turkey), fish, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, tofu and cottage cheese. You should eat ____ ounces a day. Choose lean meats and skinless poultry. Trim fat from all meat. One ounce of meat is the same as:

  • 1 ounce poultry or fish

  • 5 large shrimp

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup cottage cheese

  • ¼ cup cooked dried beans or peas

  • ½ cup tofu

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter

  • 1 ounce nuts or seeds (choose a brand without trans fats)

Milk

This group includes all calcium-rich milk products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. It does not include cream cheese, cottage cheese, cream or butter. If you don't drink milk, you may use calcium-enriched soymilk instead.

You should eat or drink ____ cups per day. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk products. One cup milk is the same as:

  • 1 cup yogurt

  • 1 ½ ounces natural cheese (not processed)

  • 2 ounces processed cheese (like Kraft slices or Velveeta)

  • 1 cup calcium-enriched soymilk (containing 300 mg calcium)

Oils (fats)

Try to eat no more than ____ teaspoons of oil each day.

Liquid oils (like canola, corn, olive, soybean and sunflower oil) are better for you than solid oils (butter, stick margarine, shortening). Foods that are made from oils include mayonnaise, salad dressing and tub margarine. Some foods are naturally high in oils, like fish, nuts, olives and avocados. Limit animal fats from fatty meats, cream and butter.

Choosing from Each Food Group

Your daily calories

1000

1200

1400

1600

1800

2000

2200

2400

2600

2800

3000

Fruits

1 cup

1 cup

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

2 cups

2 cups

2 cups

2 cups

2 ½ cups

2 ½ cups

Vegetables

1 cup

1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups

2 cups

2 ½ cups

2 ½ cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 ½ cups

3 ½ cups

4 cups

Grains

3 ounces

4 ounces

5 ounces

5 ounces

6 ounces

6 ounces

7 ounces

8 ounces

9 ounces

10 ounces

10 ounces

Meats and beans

2 ounces

3 ounces

4 ounces

5 ounces

5 ounces

5 ½ ounces

6 ounces

6 ½ ounces

6 ½ ounces

7 ounces

7 ounces

Milk

2 cups

2 cups

2 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

3 cups

Oils (fats)

Up to 3 teaspoons

Up to 4 teaspoons

Up to 4 teaspoons

Up to 5 teaspoons

Up to 5 teaspoons

Up to 6 teaspoons

Up to 6 teaspoons

Up to 7 teaspoons

Up to 8 teaspoons

Up to 9 teaspoons

Up to 10 teaspoons

Extra calories allowed

165

171

171

132

195

267

290

362

410

426

512

If you need more than 3,000 calories a day, go to choosemyplate.govto find out how much you should eat from each food group.

Choose My Plate

Tips for healthy eating

Use these tips to choose which foods to eat more often and which to eat less often.

  1. Make at least half your grains whole grains.

  2. Vary your veggies.

  3. Focus on fruits.

  4. Get your calcium-rich foods.

  5. Go lean with protein.

  6. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

  7. Compare sodium content in foods.

  8. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

    Choose MyPlate.gov image.

For informational purposes only. Not to replace the advice of your health care provider. Published by Fairview Health Services. Adapted from the USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. SMARTworks 520283 – REV 03/16.

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For informational purposes only. Not to replace the advice of your health care provider. Published by Fairview Health Services. Adapted from the USDA, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. SMARTworks 520283 – REV 03/16.