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Rainbow of Health
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Dietician Preethy Rahul deconstructs the Food Guide Pyramid for holistic well being

What is a Food Guide Pyramid?
Food guide pyramid is a tool that helps a person understand what types of food and the amount of food one should eat in order to maintain a healthy quality of life.

Deciphering the Pyramid
The vertical stripes in rainbow colours indicate the five food groups plus fats and oils. Each colour represents a specific food group. Here is the explanation of the colour codes:

1. orange — grains
2. green — vegetables
3. red — fruits
4. yellow — fats and oils
5. blue — milk and dairy products
6. purple — meat, beans, fish and nuts

Play the field: Have a complete and a balanced diet which includes foods from all the food groups.

Keep It Real: This is the key to healthy eating. Eat less of some foods, and more of others. You can see that the bands for meat and protein (purple) and oils (yellow) are thinner than the others. It means you need to have these foods in slightly lesser quantity compared to other food groups. The bands start out wider and get thinner as they approach the top. This indicates that even in a particular food group, certain foods are healthy which form the wide base and the narrow tip indicates not so highly recommended foods from the same group. For example a thick apple milkshake would be in that thin part of the fruit band because it has a lot of added sugar and fat whereas a whole apple would be down in the wide part as it is healthier.

No Substitute: You cannot substitute one food group with another. For instance, you cannot replace milk and have only pulses. But within a particular food group you can make your own choices. Hence, you can have curd/ cheese/ paneer instead of milk from the milk group.

The Fitness Kick: Notice the person climbing up the side stairs? That's a way of showing the importance of physical activity. All of us need to do some form of enjoyable exercise for at least ½ an hour to 45 minutes every day, so that we are fit and active.

Know Your Limits
The quantity of food a person needs to eat depends on his age, sex, and how active he is. But an average estimate for how much he needs of each food group is given below:


Grains are measured out in ounce equivalents. Ounce equivalents indicate the serving size.

On an average a healthy adult needs 6 servings of cereals every day. One ounce equivalent equals:

• 1 slice of bread or 1 medium chappati
• ½ cup of cooked cereal, like oatmeal
• ½ cup of rice/upma/vermicelli/
• 1 cup of cold cereal
Make at least half of your grain servings as whole grains, such as 100% whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.


Vegetable servings are measured in cups. On an average a healthy adult needs 2.5 servings of vegetable every day .One serving of vegetable is equal to

• ¾ cup cooked vegetables

• 1 cup raw or leafy vegetables

Include all types of vegetables like leafy vegetables, roots and tubers and other vegetables in your daily diet.


1 serving of fruit equals:

• 1 medium sized fruit

• ½ cup fruit juice

It is always better to have a whole fruit than a fruit juice as it has more fibre content and no added sugars or preservatives. On an average a healthy adult needs 2 servings of fruits every day.


Milk is an excellent source of calcium which helps build healthy bones. On an average a healthy adult needs 2 servings milk every day (non vegetarian) and 3 servings (vegetarian). One serving of milk equals:

• 1 cup milk or curd

• 2 slices of cheese

• 4 small cubes of paneer

Meats, Beans, Fish, and Nuts

Meats, Beans, Fish, and Nuts

These foods are measured in ounce equivalents. An ounce equivalent of this group would be:

• 2-3 small pieces of fish, chicken or meat

• ¼ cup cooked daals/ pulses

• 1 egg or 2 egg whites

• ½ ounce (about a small handful) of nuts or seeds

Fats and oils
Keep them limited and use minimally.

Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. An average adult would require at least 6-8 glasses of water in a day.

Nobody can become a perfect eater overnight. Follow the steps of the pyramid and take one step at a time!

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