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Before you eat, think about what and how much food goes on your plate or in your cup or bowl.
Over the day, include a variety of foods from all 5 food groups using MyPlate as your guide to assure you get the nutrients you need:
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of the Dairy food group. Keep in mind, foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group, but foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not. Calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) is also part of the Dairy Group.
|MyPlate Food Guide:|
|Eat more red, orange, and dark-green veggies like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli in main dishes.||Use fruits as snacks, salads, and desserts. At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or strawberries; add blueberries to pancakes.||Substitute whole-grain choices for refined-grain breads, bagels, rolls, breakfast cereals, crackers, rice, and pasta.||Choose skim (fat-free) or 1% (low-fat) milk. They have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.||Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, beans, peas and nuts as well as lean meats, poultry, and eggs.|
|Add beans or peas to salads (kidney or chickpeas), soups (split peas or lentils), and side dishes (pinto or baked beans), or serve as a main dish.||Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice), as well as fresh fruits.||Check the ingredients list on product labels for the words “whole” or “whole grain” before the grain ingredient name.||Top fruit salads and baked potatoes with low-fat, plain yogurt.||Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.|
|Fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned veggies.||Select 100% fruit juice.||Choose products that name a whole grain first on the ingredients list.||If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or fortified soymilk.||Choose lean meats and ground beef that are at least 90% lean.|
|Trim or drain fat from meat and remove skin from poultry to cut fat and calories.|
|For a adult 2,000-calorie daily food plan, you need the amounts below from each food group. To find amounts personalized for you, go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.|
|Eat 2 ½ cups every day||Eat 2 cups every day||Eat 6 ounces every day||Eat 3 cups every day||Eat 5 ½ ounces every day|
|What counts as a cup?||What counts as a cup?||What counts as a ounce?||What counts as a cup?||What counts as a ounce?|
|1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 100% vegetable juice; 2 cups of leafy salad greens||1 cup of raw or cooked fruit or 100% fruit juice; ½ cup dried fruit||1 slice of bread; ½ cup of cooked rice, cereal, or pasta; 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal||1 cup of milk, yogurt, or fortified soymilk; 1½ ounces natural or 2 ounces processed cheese||1 ounce of lean meat, poultry, or fish; 1 egg; 1 Tbsp peanut butter; ½ ounce nuts or seeds; ¼ cup beans or peas|
Consuming dairy products provides health benefits, such as:
Foods in the Dairy Group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include:
Choosing foods from the Dairy Group that are high in saturated fats and cholesterol can be bad for your health. Diets high in saturated fats raise “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. The “bad” cholesterol is called LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol, in turn, increases the risk for coronary heart disease.
How much is needed? Older children, teens, and adults need 3 cups a day, while children 4 to 8 years old need 2½ cups, and children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups.
Yogurt is now available on WIC! Check the WIC Approved Food Guide for brands, sizes and flavors allowed.
Use this substitute guide to incorporate plain (not sweetened or flavored) yogurt into your everyday cooking and baking.
If your child has been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance that can be scary. It is important to know that there is a difference between the two. In regards to dairy products, lactose intolerance is common and is also covered below.
A food allergy rallies the body’s disease-fighting (immune) system to action, creating unpleasant, sometimes serious, symptoms in response to a food component, usually a protein. Some severe reactions can be potentially fatal. The immune system starts to work even though the person isn’t sick. That’s why symptoms appear. If the immune system isn’t the cause of a food reaction, it isn’t an allergy.
Different food intolerances have different causes. For various reasons, people may not be able to digest a component of certain foods, perhaps because a digestive enzyme such as lactase is deficient. Naturally occurring substances such as theobromine in coffee and tea or serotonin in bananas and tomatoes may cause reactions but they are not life-threatening. Since food intolerances may prompt some similar symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps) they are often mislabeled as food allergies.
Lactose is a sugar found in dairy foods. During digestion, an intestinal enzyme called lactase breaks down lactose into smaller, more easily digested sugars – glucose and galactose. When lactose is not fully digested, it is fermented by healthy bacteria in the colon. This fermentation may produce uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal cramps or pain, diarrhea, and/or nausea.
If you drink cow’s milk without any negative side effects, there’s really no reason to switch to a plant-based option. Cow’s milk is a good dietary source of necessary vitamins and minerals. A serving of cow’s milk contains calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and a host of micronutrients that you need in your diet.
If you or someone in your family is diagnosed with a dairy allergy, you will have to eliminate all forms of dairy (yogurt, milk, cheese) from your diet. The following section talks about dairy-free options. If you or your child has lactose intolerance, there are many other options and your child may be able to handle some dairy items better than others. Oftentimes fluid milk is the hardest to digest.
Plant-based milks include soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice, oat or peas milk. If you are going to switch to a plant-based milk, be certain to read the label and find a product that contains good amounts of protein, vitamin D, iron, and calcium. Ideally, aim for a milk that has at least 8 or 9 grams of protein per serving. You will also want to make sure you choose a milk low in added sugar.
The infographic below from the National Dairy Council shows the major differences in types of milk. You will see that cow’s milk contains a large amount of protein and highest amounts of vitamins and minerals at the lowest cost. It is important to note that lactose-free milk is not included in this infographic. Lactose-free milk is regular cow’s milk with the lactose removed. The nutrients in lactose-free milk are the same as regular cow’s milk that contains lactose. The price for lactose free-milk is higher than regular cow’s milk due to the processing that occurs to remove the lactose.
At one time there was concern that soy could fuel breast cancer and endocrine disorders. Soy contains isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen that is similar to human estrogen. However, those theories have been debunked. If you have reason to quit drinking cow’s milk and need an alternative, WIC can provide lactose-free milk as well as soy milk. Below is a comparison of different types of milk from the National Dairy Council comparing cow’s milk and soy milk as well as other options you can purchase on your own, if desired.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Complete Food and Nutrition Guide 5th edition & Harvard Medical School – Plant milk or cow’s milk: Which is better for you
This post was last updated on January 13th, 2022 at 4:01 PM
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