Saturday, July 2, 2011

Recommended Healthy Portion Sizes for Vegans and Vegetarians

It seems that many people today, with the various diets and lifestyles, lack the essential understanding and awareness of recommended serving sizes. Often we we will look at that handy and insightful nutrition information label, but we'll overlook the little part that tells us exactly how much of the product the nutrition facts actually apply to. In general and contrary to the common assumption among many people, the 'Nutrition Facts Label Serving Size' is not related to the 'Food Pyramid' recommended servings.

It appears that today the serving sizes that are being printed on products in the US "are more uniform and reflect the amounts people actually eat" (according to the FDA website). A level of concern about this may not be unfounded, especially considering rumors you may have seen on several websites (I have been unable to prove or disprove them) stating such unbelievable statistics as 40 percent of the average diet in America being comprised of dairy and only 8 percent being fresh fruit!

However, glancing at a few products, the serving sizes do seem reasonable so far, for instance 5 crackers amount to one serving. Therefore it would seem they may be studying the healthier half of the American population to derive these portions. There's no justifiable cause for over reaction to the aforementioned FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) statement at the current time. Thank goodness.

Still, I would like to provide for you a basic outline of suggested daily servings and portion examples for a balanced plant-based diet (source cited below):

Breads/Grains - 6 to 11 servings daily - 1 oz ready-to-eat cereal - 5 or 6 small crackers - 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta, noodles - 1 slice of bread - 1/2 hamburger bun, English muffin ~ 1 small roll, muffin, biscuit

Vegetables - 3 to 5 servings daily 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas, legumes - 1 cup raw leafy vegetables - 1/2 cup cooked or raw vegetables - 3/4 cup vegetable juice

Fruits - 2 to 4 servings daily 1/4 cup dried fruit - 1/2 cup chopped fruit - 1 melon wedge - 3/4 cup fruit juice - 1/2 grapefruit - 1 medium apple, banana, orange

"Protein or Meat Group" Substitution - 2 to 3 servings daily 2 tablespoons peanut butter - 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds - 1/4 cup tofu or tempeh - 1 cup soy milk - 1 egg or 2 egg whites - 1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas.

Milk/Yoghurt/Cheese - 2 to 3 servings daily 1 cup milk - 1.5 oz natural cheese - 2 oz processed cheese - 1 cup or 8 oz yoghurt

(To maintain a vegan diet you can substitute these animal products with nuts and seeds, tofu, kale, edible seaweeds, watercress, parsley, dried figs, or calcium fortified soy milk for example)

Fats, Oils, Sweets which are low in hydrogenated, saturated, and trans fats, to be used sparingly of course!

Credit to source: "Vegetarian Diet Information" (copyright 2003-2008)

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