The scene: My junior year of college; it’s my 2pm intro to nutrition class. I have the most adorable middle aged man for a professor; he bikes to work and doesn’t allow his 9 children to watch TV. This man breathes nutrition. Now cue me, texting my roommate in the seat behind me something along the lines of ‘So Lost. So bored. So over it.’
It’s taken me 5 years of schooling and 3 years of teaching to really wrap my head around nutrition. I think one of the most confusing conversations in nutrition goes something like this:
- Student: “What food group do beans go in?”
- Me: “Well, beans are a great source of protein and fiber. They also are a carbohydrate!”
- Student: “So, which group do I put it in?”
These may vary a little depending on who you ask. The ‘Food Pyramid’ is old news- ‘MyPlate’ is the new standard for nutrition management that we teach in schools. The categories on that are:
- Protein [meats, tofu, beans]
- Grains [pasta, rice, bread]
- Vegetables [broccoli, carrots, celery]
- Fruits [apples, oranges, bananas]
- Dairy [milk, yogurt, cheeses]
- Fats/Oils [used in preparation/condiments typically]
Food groups are a general way of categorizing foods. This is a good way to introduce someone to balancing their diet.
- Carbohydrates: [sources include bagels, beans, bread, pasta, fruits]
- Protein: [sources include meats, tofu, beans, dairy products]
- Fats: [sources include dairy products, fried foods, olive oil, avocado, nuts]
- Vitamins & Minerals: [sources include fruits and vegetables]
Think of nutrients like the ‘health factor’ in certain foods. Most foods will contain multiple nutrients- even though they will fit in one primary ‘food group’. Let’s look at some examples:
Cream Cheese: Food Group = Dairy. Good source of nutrients like protein and fat.
Peanuts: Food Group = Protein. Good source of protein and fat.
Apple: Food Group = Fruit. Good source of carbohydrates and vitamins.
Maybe right now you’re shaking your head thinking, ‘Uh- yeah. Duh.’ But for me, this was never truly spelled out and I think it makes all the difference. To quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Connect on Social Media: