Healthy Eating/Wellness: Structured Eating Plan
It is important to achieve and stay within a healthy weight range. Eating a balanced diet that includes many kinds of foods in ample amounts is one of the best ways of reaching a goal weight and getting the nutrients your body needs.
Foods in this guide are placed into seven groups. The foods within each group provide the same types of nutrients. The groups are combined to form a food plan for you to use in choosing balanced, tasty and satisfying meals. Your nutritionist and doctor will adjust your food plan as needed to help you meet your nutrient and energy goals.
As your eating patterns become normal and your body moves toward a healthy weight range, your nutritional needs will change. You will need more nutrients and energy than other people of the same height to restore your health. Your nutritionist and doctor will adjust your food plan as needed to help you meet these health goals.
Milk and dairy products are a major source of protein, calcium, riboflavin, and Vitamins A and D. Many milk products can be found in non-fat, low-fat and regular versions. Based on your nutritional needs, your nutritionist will advise which type is best to meet your needs. Refer to the chart below to find out the number of servings to include daily.
Milk: You have________cups_____milk daily
Dairy: You have________servings daily
- 1 cup chocolate milk
- 1-1/2 ounces cheese
- 1 cup plain or flavored yogurt
- 1 cup hot cocoa made with milk
- 1 cup pudding
- 1 cup kefir (drinkable yogurt)
Note on Calcium
Each serving from the milk/dairy group provides about 300 mg calcium. Women who are not having regular menstruation may be at risk for osteoporosis. Their calcium needs will be higher than for other women of the same age.
Greek yogurt has about 1/3 the calcium and twice the protein of regular yogurt, so it is counted as a protein source.
Use the chart below to find out your calcium needs.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (milligrams)
0 – 6 months
6 – 12 months
1 – 3 years
4 – 8 years
9 – 18 years
Adults: Men and Women
Greater than 50 years
Pregnant and Nursing Women
Less than 18 years
Fruit and Vegetable Groups
The fruit and vegetable groups will provide Vitamin A and C, folate and minerals. Foods in this group are also a very good source of fiber. While fruits and vegetables are healthful, they are only one aspect of a balanced diet and should not displace other food groups. Fruits and vegetables contain minimal protein and fat; both are essential nutrients.
Fruit: You have________servings daily
- 1/2 cup fruit or juice
- 1 medium portion of fresh fruit
- 1/4 cup dehydrated fruits
- 2 tablespoons raisins
Vegetable: You have________servings daily
- 1/2 cup vegetables or juice
- 1 cup salad or raw vegetables
Protein is the building block for all cells. Proteins provide energy and essential amino acids. This group also provides B vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Protein: You have________servings daily
- 2-3 ounces meat, poultry, or fish
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup cooked legumes
- 1/3 cup nuts and seeds
- 4 ounces tofu
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese or tuna
- 8 ounces of Greek yogurt
- 2 ounces cheese
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3-4 oz. soy burger
- ½ cup hummus
- 2 Babybel Original® cheese
- High protein bar (at least 15 g protein per label)
- High protein smoothies (at least 15 g protein per label)
Grains are the best source of energy. Grains and cereals provide good amounts of B vitamins, iron, complex carbohydrates and fiber.
Grain: You have________servings daily
- 1 slice bread
- 1 roll, biscuit, or tortilla
- 1 bagel round or bread “thins”
- 1 bagel round or sandwich “thin”
- 1/2 hamburger or hot dog bun
- 1/2 bagel, pita, or English muffin
- 1 ounce dry cereal
- 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta
- 1/2 cup potato or 1 medium sized
- 6 saltines
- 3 graham cracker squares
- 3 Rye Krisps® or Triscuits®
- 5 vanilla wafer cookies
- 3 cups popcorn
- 1/3 cup baked beans or sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup corn, lima beans, peas, or winter squash
Satiety Nutrient (SN) works in our meals to provide essential fatty acids, energy and carry fat-soluble vitamins. SN also carries flavor in foods and helps to provide lasting satisfaction after a meal.
Satiety Nutrient: You have________servings daily
- 1 pat or 1 teaspoon butter, margarine, mayonnaise or cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon salad dressing (French, Italian)
- 2 tablespoons cream or sour cream
- 1 strip bacon
- 1 tablespoon nuts or seeds
- 1/8 avocado
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons guacamole
Portion sizes are listed for regular (not light) products. “Light” or reduced-fat products are not advised. Fat-free products do not count as SN.
These foods add interest to meals, provide many of the essential nutrients listed above and give you energy. These foods can add pleasure to your diet and are an important part of shared meals with family and friends.
Other: You have________servings per________
- 1 cupcake, piece of cake or scone
- 1 large brownie
- 1/2 cup granola
- 1 candy bar
- 1 vending snack
- 1 sweet roll
- 1/2 cup ice cream
- 1 alcoholic beverage (2 “Light”)
- 1 serving cheesecake
- 1 cup flavored yogurt
- 2 medium cookies
- 1 granola bar
- 1/2 cup sherbet
- 1 small donut
- 1-1/2 ounce potato or corn chips
- 12 ounces fruit drink, punch, or soda (non-diet)
- 1/2 cup flavored yogurt
- 1/2 cup pudding
- 1 frozen fudge bar
- 1 cup hot cocoa
- 4 to 6 ounces low fat ice cream
- 8-12 ounce Coffee shop mocha
- Miniature chocolates (9 kisses or 5 bars)
Water is our most basic nutrient and is a part of every cell. It’s a good idea to drink 6 to 8 cups of liquid daily. This can include any fluid beverages or just plain water. Fruit juice and milk products both meet your fluid needs as well as provide other nutrients. If you are very active or if it is very hot, more water may be needed. Although water is healthy, drinking large amounts of water with meals can lead to a feeling of fullness and make it hard to meet all of your nutritional needs. As a rule, try not to drink more than 4 to 6 ounces of water at a meal.
Meal Planning Guide
It is healthful to plan at least three meals and 2 snacks. Avoid waiting longer than 4 to 5 hours between meals or snacks.
Divide your grain, fruit, and vegetable groups to balance your intake. A balanced meal should contain something from at least three food groups.
Be sure to have some protein (milk, dairy and protein groups) in all your meals. It is a good plan to spread these foods throughout the day since they will make you feel full and prevent you from feeling hungry.
Include satiety nutrients (SN) with each meal. Satiety nutrients are needed for normal control of hunger and satisfaction.
“Other” foods can be added to meals or used as snacks.
Many foods combine more than one food group. You will need to figure out which food groups they are a part of. Here are some examples.
SN = Satiety Nutrient (see page 3)
1 slice pizza (thin crust) = 1 grain, 1/2 protein, 1 SN
1 slice pizza (thick crust) = 3 grain, 1 protein, 1 SN
1 combination food (lasagna, beef tips on noodles, Sushi etc.) = 1 protein, 1 grain
1 cup casserole (macaroni and cheese, Asian noodle, etc.) = 2 grain, 1/2 protein
1 serving quiche = 1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 SN
1 cup stew (meat or vegetarian)= 1 protein, 1 grain, 1 vegetable
1 prepared sandwich = 1 protein, 2 grain (Add 1 SN for salad sandwiches, grilled or buttered sandwiches i.e. Panini type)
1 small order fries = 1 grain, 1 SN
1 chef-type salad = 1 protein, 2 vegetables plus dressing (1 SN)
1 fruit muffin, small scone or slice of fruit bread = 1 grain, 1 SN
1 (3 ounce) croissant = 2 grain, 2 SN
2 large pancakes = 2 grain, 2 SN
2 slices French toast = 2 grain, 1/2 protein, 1 SN
1 cup broth soup = 1 grain
1 cup cream soup = 1 grain, 1 SN
1 cup hot cocoa (made with milk) = 1/2 other or 1 dairy
1 cup rice and beans (homemade or restaurant side dish) = 2 grain, 1 protein
Understanding Hunger and Fullness
Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. It is helpful to get to know the natural rhythm of your need to nourish yourself. Use the scale below as a means to get back “in touch” with healthy eating patterns. You should try to stay in the range of 4-5 through 7-8.
Hunger and Satiety Scale
- Starved; hunger pangs are severe, present on and off for greater than 30 minutes (extreme food focus, headache, fatigue, irritability).
- Very hungry; hunger pangs on and off for at least 15 minutes (constant food thoughts, much heightened sense of taste and smell).
- 3Hungry; starting to feel some intense hunger (stomach growling, increased sense of taste and smell). Heightened senses are a sign that this is true hunger and eating should not be delayed.
- Somewhat hungry (first thoughts of food, first hunger feelings – fleeting). Make a plan to eat in the next 30 minutes.
- Neutral—feeling neither hungry nor full.
- Starting to feel food in the stomach but not feeling ready to stop eating.
- Satisfied with meal or snack, could most likely go at least two hours without feeling hunger.
- Starting to feel full could most likely go three to four hours without feeling hunger.
- Very full, feeling uncomfortable (desire to limit movement or are sleepy).
- Stuffed (pressure from stomach is painful; desire to restrict movement, feel sleepy).
Plan a one-day menu using your food guide.
Exercise is needed if you are going to be in good health. Moderate, regular exercise is best.
If you are a UW Health patient and have more questions please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below.
2880 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
UW Health West Clinic
451 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717
UW Health East Clinic
5249 East Terrace Drive
Madison, WI 53718
Spanish version is PI #383
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/10/2012
Copyright © 11/16/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#168
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