A Guide to Dietary Food Requirements
This is a guide to healthy eating, a tool for managing your daily food requirements. It is a simple guide and is based on Canada Food guide
- The four food groups
- The daily number of servings required
- The serving sizes
- The number of servings for each food group
The daily food requirements are based on gender and age, where there is a variation a male requires the higher.
There are four food groups for a healthy eating pattern. Can you identify them in the photo on the left?
The first group is ‘Vegetables and Fruit.’
We need more servings from this group than any other.
- A child age 2-3 requires 4 servings of vegetables or fruit
- A child age 4-8 requires 5 servings
- A child age 9-13 requires 6 servings
- A teenager requires 7-8 servings
- An adult 19-50 requires 7-10
- An adult over 50 requires 7
Examples of a serving:
- 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
- 1 fresh fruit
- 1/2 cup cooked leafy vegetables
- 125 ml fruit juice (100%)
- 1/2 cup frozen, canned or fresh vegetables
- 1/2 cup frozen or canned fruit
Canned, frozen or fresh vegetables and fruit are all good choices.
Dark green vegetables are high in folate.
Examples of dark green vegetables are broccoli, lettuce, spinach and brussel sprouts, green peas and asparagus.
Orange vegetables are rich in carotenoids such as beta carotene and vitamin A.
Examples of orange vegetables and fruit are squash, sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, mangos and papaya.
The second group is ‘Grain Products.‘ It is second in importance to vegetables and fruit.
Grains are an excellent source of fibre. They are also low in fat.
Grain products provide carbohydrates, iron, fibre,vitamin B, magnesium and zinc.
Healthy eating includes whole grain.
Examples of whole grains: Brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, quinoa, oatmeal, wild rice, whole oats, whole rye and whole wheat.
- A child 2-3 years requires 3 servings of grain products
- A child 4-8 4 servings
- A child 9-13 requires 6
- A teenager requires 6-7 .
- An adult age 19-50 requires 6-8
- Ad adult over 50 6-7
Examples of a serving of grain products:
- 1 slice of bread
- 1/2 bagel
- 1/2 cup cooked rice, bulgur or quinoa
- 1/2 cup cooked pasta or couscous
- 30g of cold cereal
- 3/4 cup hot cereal
- 1/2 pita or tortilla
Milk and Milk Alternatives is the third group of foods.
These products are milk, fortified soy beverage, cheese, yogurt and kefir.
We need less servings of this group than we do of ‘Vegetables’ or ‘Grains.’
- Children 2-8 years require 2 servings of milk products
- Children 9-13 years require 3-4 servings
- Teenagers require 3-4 servings
- Adults age 19-50 require 2 servings
- Adults age 51+ require 3 servings
Examples of a serving:
- 175 g yogurt
- 250 ml milk
- 250 ml fortified soy beverage
- 50g cheese
- 175 g kefir
You can get these products as canned, powdered, evaporated or condensed.
Two cups daily will provide adequate vitamin D, calcium, vitamin B, zinc, protein, magnesium. Look for milk that is lower in fat for maximum nutrition, for example skim, 1% or 2%.
‘Meat & Meat Alternatives.‘- Of all the four food groups, we need fewer servings of this one.
Meat and it’s alternatives provide iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin-B, protein, fat and Omega-3. Omega-3 present in fish reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Food products in this group include non-animal products.
Examples of foods products in this group are: poultry, lean meat, eggs, legumes, lentils, fish, nuts, peanut, peanut butter, tofu and chick peas.
- Children age 2-8 require one serving of meat products.
- Children age 9-13 require 1-2
- Teenagers require 2-3 servings
- Adults age 19-50 require 2-3
- Adults age 51+ require 2-3
Examples of a serving:
- 75 g lean meat
- 75g of poultry
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup cooked legumes
- 3/4 cup tofu
- 2 +1/2 oz of fish
*Get 2 servings of fish a week into your diet for a healthy eating pattern.
Oils & Fat
As well as these four food groups, oil and fat are important. Oil and fat supply calories and essential fats; they help our bodies absorb fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
The type of fat; however, is as important as the amount. Polyunsaturated and Mono-unsaturated fats are good sources of Omega- 3 and Omega-6. A certain amount of these fat is required in our diet.
Saturated and trans fat on the other hand can contribute to cardiovascular disease. We want to limit saturated fat and avoid trans fat.
To ensure you get the type and amount in your diet, include 30-45 ml of unsaturated fat each day. This can be fat or oils used in salad dressing, oil used for cooking, soft margarine at the table or mayonnaise.
Canada Food Guide uses a rainbow to represent and illustrate their food guide recommendations. The largest side of the arc representing ‘Vegetables and Fruit’. The smallest, inner side of the arc representing ‘Meat & Meat Alternatives.
Tips For Success
Remember when preparing your meals to include the vegetables used in soups, stir fries and risottos and all mixed dishes.
When buying frozen or canned, check the nutritional label and choose ones with the lowest fat, sugar and salt.
Make 1/2 of your daily servings of grain products whole grain. This way you get the maximum nutrients .
*Eat legumes and beans often, they are excellent alternatives, cheaper and nutritious enough.
- Choose whole wheat flour and whole wheat pizza crust often.
- If using white flour, look for enriched flour.
- Check the ingredients of white flour for added vitamins and minerals.
- Read the nutritional value on packaging and choose cereals that are higher in fibre.
Watch the Video
It is useful for working out your personal daily requirements.
The information in this guide was taken from Canada Food Guide, it has been simplified t prevent information overload.