Day 2 Healthy Eating: Food groups and serving sizes

Think of everything you eat as belonging to a family. We have the grain product family, which you probably have no trouble filling up on. Fruits and vegetables are like the in-laws-you-see-in-the-movies part of the family; you know they’re good for you but you find yourself spending less than a desirable amount of time with them. Alternatives to meat are like your parents; we concentrate a lot on this group, because they are basically what defines our vegetarianism. Finally, dairy products are the cousins that some of us love and some of us forget about.

Think of your dinner plate as resembling a clock: the area between 12 and 6 o’clock should be covered in fruits and vegetables; grain products should make up 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock; and protein should cover 9 o’clock to 12.

Grain Products 6-8 servings

This group includes oatmeal, cereal, bread, rice and other products of a grain-y origin.

Now what constitutes one serving?

Carbs/pasta/rice/potato: 1/2 cup (size of your palm)
Bread: 1 slice
Bagel: 1 (size of a hockey puck)
Potato: 1 potato the size of a computer mouse
Pancake: 1

Fruits & Vegetables 7-10 servings

This group is the most self-explanatory, yet the most neglected, as well. Keep in mind that corn is actually a grain, and potatoes are so starch-y that you really shouldn’t feel you’ve accomplished much in this sector if you’ve stocked up on those.

Aim for dark green or orange vegetables, and be mindful of the sugar content of fruits (though it’s a healthy, natural sugar!).

Fruits: 1 cup (size of your fist, or a tennis ball)
Vegetables: 1/2 cup cooked (size of your fist, or a tennis ball cut in half)
Lettuce: 1 cup (4 leaves)
Juice: 120 mL (NOT a 450 mL Minute Maid bottle)

Alternatives to meat 2-3 servings

We’re looking at legumes, nuts and soy products.

Protein/meat: 3 oz (sze of your palm or a deck of cards)
Nuts: 8 (handful)
Peanut butter: 1 tsp (tip of your thumb)

Dairy products 2-3 servings

Cheese: 1 oz (two thumbs put together)
Milk: 120 mL
Yogurt: 175 g (NOT  a cute 100 g package of yogurt)
or Milk/Yogurt: 1 cup

Food for the soul 0-3 times a week

Let’s restrict the junk food intake! But it is acknowledged that food of this category is good for the health of our soul.

Today’s goal: Aim to consume at least 6 servings of grain products, 6 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 servings of alternatives to meat (to our dear meat-eating readers, try to make the other serving a legume or  nut source), and 2 servings of dairy products.

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 Sources: Workshop by Peer Health Educators at York University, Diet & fitness journal by Claudine Gandolfi, Health Canada food group guide


Healthy snack ideas (fruits, vegetables and dairy)

You’ve pretty much got grain products and alternatives to meat down pact. I mean, as vegetarians, we do tend to focus a lot on our protein intake.

If you’re like me, what you’re really concentrating on is getting that protein in there, and after you’ve adapted to finding alternatives to meat, you’re working on being true to vegetarianism—and that means eating vegetables. If you recall, I’m not your average vegetarianvegetables don’t come naturally to me. Or at least, they didn’t used to. Things are a little easier now that I’ve discovered avocados, rapini and even asparagus.

Here are my simple yet flavourful snack suggestions for sneaking vegetables and dairy products into your diet.