Let me tell you about the lunch I had Saturday. It was low-fat, nutrient-dense and very filling.
And it was a big lunch. Most people think they do not or should not eat that much lunch. But several studies show that people do better at weight control when calories are evenly spaced throughout the day.
If you follow the Food Guide Pyramid's minimum recommendations of six grains, two fruits, three vegetables, 5 ounces of "lean meat," two skim dairy products and six teaspoons of added fat, that totals about 1,500 calories per day.
That's a weight-maintenance level for a sedentary woman, or a slow weight loss for an active woman. (Men should eat about 1,000 calories per day more.)
So a 500-calorie lunch is one-third of your calories -- just about right. That lunch also offers about 45 percent of your fiber and only 16 percent of your fat, if you're aiming for 30 percent of calories from fat.
As far as the pyramid goes, that lunch provides three grains, 2 ounces meat, one dairy food, one vegetable and one fruit.
The carrot offers enough beta carotene for several days, and the orange meets the RDA for vitamin C for the day.
The entire meal provides one-fourth of the folacin recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for women of childbearing age. Folacin is one of the B vitamins that has been shown conclusively to reduce certain birth defects, and may also help prevent some uterine cancers and cataracts.
The dinner menu provides just over one-third of your calories for theday, 22 percent of your fat and 80 percent of your fiber.
By the pyramid, you get three grains, one "meat," three vegetables and one fruit.
The spinach provides 100 percent of your beta carotene for the day and one-half the RDA for vitamin C. The meal offers 85 percent of your folacin. Enjoy!
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.