Diet is a key part of the equation
Stars and Stripes June 17, 2003
Some people can run miles and they feel as if the gym is their second home, but all the working out in the world just can’t help some waistlines.
In order to truly reach your optimum weight, you have to say that four letter word: diet.
This isn’t your typical starve-to-death-and-only- eat-cabbage-soup diet; in fact, some might not say it’s not a diet at all.
It’s just regular eating, with a twist.
“What people need to know is that there are no bad foods,” said Marilou Castro, nutritionist at the U.S. Army Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. “Every type of food can be worked into a healthy diet plan. What people need to realize is that portion size is key.”
Castro is taking an old concept that may not be well understood and shedding light on it: the Food Guide Pyramid.
For years, the pyramid has been the guide to healthy eating, but many people have either disregarded it as too simple or think they may be following it correctly when, in fact, they are misinterpreting it.
The pyramid states that a healthy person should be eating per day six to 11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group; two to four servings of fruit; three to five servings of vegetables; two to three servings of the meat, poultry, bean, egg and nut group; two to three servings of the dairy group; and only use fats, oils and sweets sparingly.
Though that may seem like a lot of eating, there is a difference between servings and portion sizes. This is the factor when reading the pyramid, Castro said.
“The problem is that Americans have a distorted image of what a serving size is,” she said.
A serving size doesn’t mean how much you serve yourself; it is a standard amount used to give advice about how much to eat.
For example, if you eat a turkey sandwich for lunch, you may have nearly taken in a day’s total worth of servings from the bread group.
Each slice of bread is one serving size, but many sandwiches are made on larger rolls that could equal up to four or more servings with just the bread alone.
To determine serving sizes Castro recommends reading the back of food labels.
Brian Morgan, personal trainer for the 233rd Base Support Battalion in Darmstadt, Germany, suggests a food portion should be the size of a fist or the palm of a hand. For food hard to compare to a fist, use a measuring cup.
“Don’t just give up because you may have cheated on the weekend and ate badly, or went on vacation and didn’t stick to any plan,” Morgan said. “Once you’re back, get back into a proper routine. There’s no excuse,” Morgan said.
The Food Guide Pyramid recommends children ages 2 to 6, many women, and some older adults may need a 1,600 calorie-per-day diet. This means eating the lowest number of servings suggested by the pyramid.
Most children older than 6, teen girls, very active women and many inactive men may need about 2,200 calories.
Those who need to consume 2,800, or all the suggested servings per day, should only be teen boys and active men.