Eat Smart Idaho at University of Idaho Extension
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Eat Smart

Use MyPlate

MyPlate shows the five food groups that make up a healthy eating plan: vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy. Each of these groups provides specific nutrients that your body needs for good health.

Think of MyPlate when choosing what to eat:

  1. Start by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  2. Add a lean protein such as beef, pork, chicken, beans or nuts to one-quarter of the plate.
  3. Fill the last quarter of your plate with grains, especially whole grains.
  4. Don’t forget a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese.

All vegetables and 100% vegetable juices make up the vegetable group. Vegetables may be eaten raw or cooked and can be fresh, canned, frozen or dried. Use them whole, cut-up or pureed.

Vegetables are good sources of many nutrients including vitamins A and C, folate (folic acid), potassium and dietary fiber. Vegetables contain no cholesterol, and most vegetables are low in fat and calories.

Choose a variety of colorful vegetables. Different nutrients are contained in vegetables of different colors. Color also makes your meals look better.

  • Red/orange: tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes
  • Yellow/green: corn, spinach, broccoli, celery
  • Blue/purple: purple cabbage, eggplant, beets
  • White: potatoes, onions, mushrooms, cauliflower

Tip: Season vegetables with herbs, lemon or lime juice or vinegar without adding any calories, salt or fat.

How many vegetables should you eat each day?

Girls
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 1 cup
4–8 years 1½ cups
9–13 years 2 cups
14–18 years 2½ cups
Women
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 2½ cups
31–50 years 2½ cups
51+ years 2 cups
Boys
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 1 cup
4–8 years 1½ cups
9–13 years 2½ cups
14–18 years 3 cups
Men
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 3 cups
31–50 years 3 cups
51+ years 2½ cups
What equals 1 cup of vegetables?
Vegetable Amount equal to 1 cup
Most cooked or raw vegetables (peppers, carrots, broccoli, etc.) 1 cup
Raw leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) 2 cups
Baby carrots About 12 carrots
Sweet potato 1 large, baked (2¼ inch diameter)
Corn on the cob 1 large ear (8–9 inches long)
Potato 1 medium boiled or baked potato (2½–3 inches diameter)
Celery 2 large stalks

All fruits and 100% fruit juices make up the fruit group. Fruits can be fresh, canned, frozen or dried and eaten whole, cut-up or pureed.

Fruits provide nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories. Fruits contain no cholesterol.

Choose a variety of colorful fruits. Different colors indicate the fruit contains different nutrients. Color also makes your meals look better:

  • Red/orange: Peaches, apricots and cantaloupe
  • Yellow/green: Pineapple, kiwi and honeydew melon
  • Blue/purple: Blueberries, raisins, grapes and blackberries
  • White: Pears, bananas and jicama

How much fruit should you eat each day?

Girls
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 1 cup
4–8 years 1–1½ cups
9–13 years 1½ cups
14–18 years 1½ cups
Women
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 2 cups
31–50 years 1½ cups
51+ years 1½ cups
Boys
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 1 cup
4–8 years 1–1½ cups
9–13 years 1½ cups
14–18 years 2 cups
Men
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 2 cups
31–50 years 2 cups
51+ years 2 cups
What equals 1 cup of fruit?
Fruit Amount equal to 1 cup
Apple 1 small (2½ inch diameter)
Banana 1 large (8–9 inches long)
Grapes 32 seedless grapes
Grapefruit 1 medium (4-inch diameter)
Orange 1 large (3½-inch diameter)
Peach 1 large (2¾-inch diameter)
Pear 1 medium pear (2½ per pound)
Plum 3 medium or 2 large plums
Strawberries About 8 large berries
Watermelon 1 small wedge (1 inch thick)
Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, prunes) ½ cup
100% fruit juice 8 ounces or 1 cup

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley or other cereal grains is part of the grains group. Bread, pasta, tortillas, crackers, oatmeal and breakfast cereals are examples.

Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). 

Make at least half of your grain choices whole grains. Whole-grain foods contain the entire grain kernel. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ and several nutrients.

How many servings of grains and whole grains should you eat every day?

Girls
Age Daily recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
2–3 years 3 servings 1½ servings
4–8 years 5 servings
2½ servings
9–13 years 5 servings 3 servings
14–18 years 6 servings 3 servings
Women
Age Daily recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
18–30 years 6 servings 3 servings
31–50 years 6 servings
3 servings
51+ years
5 servings
3 servings
Boys
Age Daily recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
2–3 years 3 servings
1½ servings
4–8 years
5 servings
2½ servings
9–13 years 6 servings 3 servings
14–18 years 8 servings
4 servings
Men
Age Daily recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
18–30 years
8 servings
4 servings
31–50 years
7 servings
3½ servings
51+ years 6 servings 3 servings

Note: Servings are listed as ounce equivalents. In general, 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal or ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta or cooked cereal can be considered as 1 ounce equivalent from the Grains Group.

What counts as a serving (ounce equivalent) of grain? How many servings are in common portions of grain foods?
1 serving of grain Common portions Number of grain servings in common portions
Bagel 1 mini bagel 1 large bagel

4

Bread 1 regular slice 2 regular slices >2
English muffin ½ muffin 1 whole muffin 2
Muffin 1 small (2½-inch diameter) 1 large (3½-inch diameter) 3
Oatmeal ½ cup cooked
1 packet instant
1/3 cup dry
1 cup cooked 2
Popcorn 3 cups popped 1 mini microwave bag 2
Cold cereal 1 cup 2 cups 2
Rice ½ cup cooked 1 cup cooked 2
Pasta ½ cup cooked 1 cup cooked 2
Tortillas 1 small (6-inch diameter) 1 large (13-inch diameter) 4

The protein food group includes both animal and plant protein. Examples are meat, poultry, seafood, dry beans and peas, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds. Choose lean meat choices such as loin or round cuts and poultry with the skin removed.

Foods in this group are good sources of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, iron (animal sources) and fiber (plant sources).

Girls
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 2 ounces
4–8 years 4 ounces
9–13 years 5 ounces
14–18 years 5 ounces
Women
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 5½ ounces
31–50 years 5 ounces
51+ years
5 ounces
Boys
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 2 ounces
4–8 years
4 ounces
9–13 years 5 ounces
14–18 years 6½ ounces
Men
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years
6½ ounces
31–50 years
6 ounces
51+ years 5½ ounces

How much protein is in common portions of food?
Amount of protein
1 small lean hamburger 2–3 ounces
1 can of tuna, drained 3–4 ounces
1 hardboiled egg 1 ounce
12 almonds 1 ounce
7 walnut halves 1 ounce
¼ cup cooked black, kidney, pinto or white beans 1 ounce
1 tablespoon peanut butter 1 ounce
¼ cup tofu 1 ounce
2 tablespoons hummus 1 ounce

The dairy group includes milk, cheese, yogurt and calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage). Dairy products are especially important for bone health. They are great sources of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and protein and are often fortified with vitamin D. Low-fat (1%) and fat-free dairy foods contain the same nutrients as higher-fat dairy foods with fewer calories and less saturated fat and cholesterol.

Girls
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 2 servings
4–8 years 2½ servings
9–13 years 3 servings
14–18 years 3 servings
Women
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years 3 servings
31–50 years 3 servings
51+ years
3 servings
Boys
Age Daily recommendation
2–3 years 2 servings
4–8 years
2½ servings
9–13 years 3 servings
14–18 years 3 servings
Men
Age Daily recommendation
18–30 years
3 servings
31–50 years
3 servings
51+ years 3 servings

What counts as 1 serving of dairy foods?

Dairy

Serving size
Milk 1 cup
Yogurt 1 cup
Cheddar, mozzarella, or swiss cheese 1½ ounces
Shredded cheese 1/3 cup
American cheese 2 ounces
Cottage cheese 2 cups
Soy milk fortified with calcium 1 cup
Ice cream 1½ cups

ChooseMyPlate.gov

Eat Breakfast

Here are ideas to make it quick, inexpensive and healthy

  • Include nontraditional breakfast foods like a peanut butter sandwich or leftovers from dinner.
  • If you have time, sit down with your family and enjoy breakfast together. On busy days, pack a breakfast to go.
  • Try setting the table the night before or packing your breakfast and keeping it in the refrigerator until morning.

Healthy mix and match breakfast ingredients

Choose foods from at least three of the food groups.

Fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh fruit in season
  • Frozen fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Salsa
  • 100% vegetable juice
  • Other vegetables
Grain

Choose whole grain

  • Toast
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Tortilla
  • Bagel
  • English muffin
  • Low fat granola bar
Protein
  • Egg
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Ham
  • Turkey
Dairy

Choose low-fat

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • String cheese
  • Cottage cheese

Easy breakfast ideas

  • Smoothie: fruit (any), dairy (milk or yogurt), protein (peanut butter) and/or vegetables (spinach, kale or other greens)
  • Sandwich: grain (bread, English muffin or bagel), dairy (cheese) and protein (egg, ham or other meat)
  • Parfait: dairy (yogurt), fruit (any) and grain (granola or other cereal)
  • Burrito: grain (tortilla), protein (egg, ham or other meat), dairy (cheese) and/or vegetables (salsa, tomatoes, onions, peppers or mushrooms)

Activity

Think of a breakfast that includes three to five food groups.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Avoid unhealthy snacks like candy, chips, cookies and soda from the convenience store. Instead, keep some healthy snacks at home and some in your car or bag. For less than the cost of a soda from the vending machine, you could eat one of these quick, healthy, delicious snacks:

  • 1 small apple and 1 string cheese
  • 1 celery stalk and 1 carrot with 2 tablespoons low-fat ranch dip
  • 1 cup low-sugar cereal and ½ cup low-fat milk
  • 1 small banana with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 cup low-fat yogurt sprinkled with ¼ cup low-fat granola
  • ½ cup applesauce and 2 whole graham crackers (4 squares)
  • 1 medium orange and 1 pudding cup
  • 3 cups popcorn with ½ cup 100% fruit juice

Limit Eating Out

Restaurant meals often cost two or three times as much as similar meals prepared at home. Look at your food budget and decide how much money you can spend eating out. Limit yourself to that amount at restaurants and on fast-food and take-out meals.

  • Restaurant meals can be high in fat and calories and low in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose whole-grain bread for sandwiches.
  • Look for salads with lots of vegetables.
  • Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side.
  • Choose entrees with vegetables, such as pasta with tomato sauce or stir-fries.
  • Order meals that are broiled, steamed or grilled rather than fried.

  • Find less-expensive restaurants that serve food your family enjoys.
  • Instead of dinner, go out for lunch when meals are often less expensive.
  • Look for “2 for 1” specials or coupons.
  • Share an entrée or take home half for another meal.
  • Drink water.