Nutrition and Food Portions

By Dr. Ufuale Christine Afola Amey                                                                      

American supermarkets’ food can look very different and strange for many newcomers in New York City.  What is good to eat? How much food to buy? What kind of food can I use for my cooking? Well, by now you may know that sugar, sugary drinks, salty snacks and processed packaged food are bad for you. If you are still figuring out the healthy diet for yourself, then there is a great resource for you.

On February 14, 2013 at the Andrew Romay New Immigrant Center, Ms. Nedra Jones, a trainer of the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, nicely led us through the different paths of getting a good health that we hardly saw the two hours go by. Through her questions and answers we learnt about the quality and quantity of foods we need daily to be healthy. We need foods to live but we must also care about what we put in our plates all the time, because a very high rate of mortality is linked to sugar, salt and fat overconsumption. Most of cardio-vascular diseases find their root in a high accumulation of these 3 nutritional elements. As there are different ways to get these elements and to better guide people in their choice, foods are divided into 5 groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.

We daily need all the 5 groups for our well being so it’s very important to know about what goes into each group. For instance, when we daily eat only oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe and drink mixed fruits juice, we definitely eat all subgroups of fruits but maybe overtake our portion of food without using the other groups. The amount of fruits each person needs, depends on his/her age, sex, level of activities, and according to Nedra, in general, the daily need is 2 cups. As an illustration, she showed us the types of cups and glasses that are recommended.

Vegetables are really varied so we should be careful when often taking only lettuce, broccoli or spinach because besides this dark green vegetables group, we also need beans and peas group (black beans, lentils, soy beans…), starchy vegetables group (corn, potatoes, green bananas), red orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes…) and other vegetables (onions, green beans,  avocado). All the vegetables may be taken raw, cooked, fresh, frozen dried, cut-up or mashed. The daily need of this group is 2.5 cups but may change from one person to another.

Grains foods are a good source of fiber for our tissues and for a better digestion, but we need to balance this group. Any food made from wheat, rice, oat or another cereal is a grain product. If we are often able to alternate products made of Whole grains (brown rice, oat, wheat flour) with those of Refined grains (white rice, white flour, white bread) our nutrition will be more various, rich and more beneficial for our health. Even though the recommended daily intake of grains depends on sex, age and daily personal activities, the general amount should not exceed 3 ounces a day.

For instance, if we do not eat meat or poultry, we can take peas, eggs, sea foods, nuts or nut seeds to balance our need of proteins. The most important thing we should do is to get the amount we need every day. If the daily intake is 5.5 cups, it’s good to know that a single thigh of chicken or one egg gives us already 1 cup of this group.

Those of us who like milk or food stuffs made out of milk should consider themselves dairy-lovers. To balance the dairy group, we should try to add cheese, yogurt, milk dessert or soy milk sometime. One glass of milk represents 1 cup and we should know that the recommended daily intake of dairy products is 3 cups.

We need five groups of foods every day, but before we eat, we should think about what we put in our plate. According to Nedra, to avoid junk foods in our refrigerator, we should never do food shopping when we are hungry.  As new immigrants in New York, far from our country food habits, we should try as much as possible to know more and better about nutrition and foods portions in order to balance our foods for a better and healthier life. The next classes of Nedra Jones in the Center will be available from March 2013. We were invited to get more information on nutrition and portion sizes at




6 Comments on “Nutrition and Food Portions”

  1. Eat is a human inner action to fill our body with the necessary to live, but it dosen’t mean that we will be healthy just only with eat whatever food. There are five groups of foods that we must consume daily, that are: Vegetables, grains, fruits, protein and dairy.
    According to experts each group must be supplied in daily portions taking as measure a cup or glass, that’s the way we could measure the amount we need eat. We need different portions of cups per group, for example:

    2.5 cups, but may change from one person to another, of vegetables that include lettuce, broccoli, spinach, black beans, lentils, soy beans, corn, potatoes, green bananas, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, green beans, avocado.
    2 cups of fruits that include oranges, strawberries, cantaloupe.
    3 ounces for grains like rice, brown rice, oat, wheat flour.
    5.5 cups of protein like meat, poultry, chicken, peas, eggs, sea foods, nuts or nut seeds.
    3 cups of dairy group like cheese, yogurt, milk dessert or soy milk.

    The most important is to know more about nutrition to provide our plates with healthier food.

  2. nadege says:

    according to the article,people need to get basic information to understand health care system in united states.
    First they are two kind of health care patient; inpatient and out patient. after that it important to know also the different kind of hospital. they are also two groups of hospital; public and private. in private hospital we can get two kind. they are non profit privet hospital and for profit privet hospital.
    In united states, doctors either work alone or in small groups.
    To get good care you must get good health insurance.without work it is expensive to get health insurance . Most of people in US get their insurance from their work. they pay premium to insurance company and they employers pay for the rest.
    After riding this article ,it is good to get insurance in your work than get insurance by your self.
    by Nadege

  3. Eric says:

    1-The article talks about foods that may be dangerous to our health,like sugar,sugary drinks,salty snacks and processed packaged foods.
    The very high rate of mortality or cardiovascular diseases are linked to sugar,salt and fat over consumption.
    2- We should be careful about what we eat.
    3- Writer wants to suggest us the fifth groups of foods (Fruits,Vegetables,Grains,Proteins and Dairy),quantities per day we have to combine for a good healthy.
    4- The first blood examination showed that I had a risk of cholesterol and the Doctor suggested to add more vegetables on my plate and practice exercises as much as possible I can to reduce the rate of cholesterol on my body.
    5- Living with respect of nutritionists advices may be benefit for a good healthy life,without cardiovascular diseases,and increase chances for longevity.

  4. IrinaIZ says:

    Life is good and can be enjoyed as long as you are healthy. But, many of us think about our health only when we come to a certain age. Until this time, we eat the unhealthy foods, and think that bad health will not affect us. However, good health habits are very important and should be practiced from a young age. Lack of knowledge about proper nutrition leads to excess weight. America has many fast food places. These places serve foods high in calorie content with very little nutritional value.
    From personal experience I know that eating the foods listed in the article everyday will provide that your body gets what it needs to function properly. Also, the small portions are more than sufficient. Food is served in a small dish. And drink water! Good H2O is the key in making you run throughout the day.
    So go on, grab your grocery list and make sure you add these 5 groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy to it.

  5. Svitlana says:

    It is very important to have a balance of 5 groups of food: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. Also we have to abide by certain quantity of each group. Because each component contains nutrients which are necessary for life and health. After arriving to the new country new immigrants are always puzzled with food in food-markets and this article advices to keep the balance of 5 groups of food. Actually, I did not have this problem, because I have had in my ration all components since I was a child, because my father always paid attention to healthy and nutritious eating. But I think, it is also very important for heath how was produced or grown each one of food what we eat. Last time more and more foodstuffs grown or processed in unnatural way with using different kinds of Genetically modified additives, chemicals and antibiotics to get bigger size, longer storage life and faster growth. All that staff reduces nutrients of food and even could make it dangerous for the human if to eat it constantly. For instance, when I went to bay dairy, I found out all of them have storage life more than 3 month, moreover, they were not spoiled after opening a long time in a refrigerator. I am not sure if it is nutritious and healthy dairy. And I am still puzzled and wondering what to eat in spite of having balanced diet.

  6. IdaN says:

    What we eat? When we eat? How we eat? Why we eat? Where we eat? Are current questions frequently asked of these last time considering the high level of diseases related to both malnutrition and unhealthy nutrition.
    Lots of studies have shown that diabetes and high blood pressure are the first causes of heart diseases and stroke.
    Furthermore the expenses related to these diseases made by insurance companies have ascended over time and continue to rise considering the increasing number of people affected each year.
    This is the reason why government, politics and insurance companies are doing all they can to encourage people changing their nutrition and life style. The slogan, “Eat well and move,” was seeing, hearing, used so many time within several advertising these last years; which is a proof of how important this topic is today!

    The Article written by Dr. Ufuale Christine Afola Amey, tells about how related nutrition is to health. A daily balanced nutrition, which includes vegetables, grains, fruits, protein and dairy in certain proportions according to gender, age and daily personal activities, coupled with physical exercise is the secret of a good health.

    In other words, eat a bit of everything (vegetables, grains, fruits, protein and dairy), in three to four daily meals during a dedicated time, combined with few hours of exercises each day can help reducing chance of having chronic deceases.

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