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Regular Diet


A regular diet is a meal plan that includes a variety of foods from all of the food groups listed below. A healthy meal plan is low in unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugar. Follow this meal plan if you do not have any health problems that require a special diet. A healthy meal plan and lifestyle may reduce your risk of certain diseases. Some of these include heart disease, osteoporosis (brittle bones), and some types of cancer. Ask your dietitian how much you should eat from every food group each day.


Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or dietitian as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Fruits and vegetables:

Half of your plate should contain fruits and vegetables.

Plate Model
  • Fruits: Choose fresh, canned, or dried fruit instead of fruit juice as often as possible.

    • 1 cup of fruit juice

    • 1 cup of sliced, diced, cooked, or canned fruit

    • 1 large peach, orange, or banana

    • ½ cup of dried fruit

  • Vegetables: Eat more dark green, red, and orange vegetables. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens. Examples of orange and red vegetables are carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, oranges, and red peppers.

    • 1 cup of cooked or raw vegetables

    • 1 cup of vegetable or tomato juice

    • 2 cups of raw leafy greens (spinach, romaine, or dark green leafy lettuce)


Half of the grains you eat each day should be whole grains.

  • Whole grains:

    • ½ cup of cooked brown rice or cooked oatmeal

    • 1 cup (1 ounce) of whole-grain dry cereal

    • 1 slice of 100% whole-wheat or rye bread

    • 3 cups of popped popcorn

  • Other grains:

    • ½ cup of cooked white rice or pasta

    • ½ of an English muffin

    • 1 small flour or corn tortilla

    • 1 mini bagel

Dairy Foods:

Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.

  • 1½ ounces of hard cheese (mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar)

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt

  • 1 cup of low-fat frozen yogurt or pudding

Meat and other protein sources:

Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake, broil, and grill meat instead of frying it. Include a variety of seafood in place of some meat and poultry each week. Eat a variety of protein foods.

  • ½ ounce of nuts (12 almonds, 24 pistachios, 7 walnut halves) or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (1 ounce)

  • ¼ cup of soy tofu or tempeh (1 ounce)

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup of cooked dried beans, peas, or lentils (1 ounce)

  • 1 small chicken breast or 1 small trout (about 3 ounces)

  • 1 salmon steak (4 to 6 ounces)

  • 1 small lean hamburger (2 to 3 ounces)


Limit saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. These unhealthy fats are found in shortening, butter, stick margarine, and animal fat. Choose healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats:

  • 1 tablespoon of canola, olive, corn, or soybean oil

  • 1 tablespoon of soft margarine

  • 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons of salad dressing

  • ½ of an avocado

Foods to limit:

Try to limit the following types of foods in each group whenever possible. They are high in total fat, unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories.

  • Breads and starches:

    • Cookies, donuts, croissants, store-bought muffins, or other high-fat breads

  • Fruits and vegetables:

    • Fruit in pastries, ice cream, or rich desserts

    • Fried vegetables such as French fries

    • Vegetables made with cream sauces or topped with cheese.

  • Dairy foods:

    • Cream and regular hard cheeses

    • Regular and premium ice cream

    • Whole milk, half and half, and regular eggnog

  • Meat and other protein sources:

    • Meats, seafood, or poultry that are fried or that are served with high-fat gravies and sauces

    • High-fat meats such as sausages, bacon, lunch meats, and organ meats

  • Fats:

    • Butter and stick margarine, lard, and shortening

    • Visible fat on any meat, fish, or poultry

Other guidelines to follow:

  • Choose and prepare foods and drinks with less salt and added sugars. Use the nutrition information on food labels to help you make healthy choices. The percent daily value listed on the food label tells you whether a food is low or high in certain nutrients. A percent daily value of 5% or less means that the food is low in a nutrient. A percent daily value of 20% or more means that the food is high in a nutrient.

  • Get 2 hours and 30 minutes or more of physical activity each week, such as brisk walking. Get 1 hour and 15 minutes of physical activity each week if the activity requires a higher level of effort, such as running. Spread physical activity throughout the week. Talk to your caregiver about the best exercise plan for you.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol can damage your brain, heart, and liver. It can increase your risk of a stroke and high blood pressure. Women should limit alcohol to 1 drink a day. Men should limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.