MSU EXTENSION: The combination to eating healthy

By Tracie Abram

Michigan State University Extension

Most people can recite the five food groups: grains, protein, vegetables, dairy and fruits, but most have not figured out how much of each food group they should consume. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guidance recommend that adolescence, adults and seniors who are moderately active should eat on average 2,000-2,500 calories per day. To help figure out how much to eat from each food group that equal 2,000-2,500 calories, remember this combination of numbers: 6-5-3-3-2.

These numbers are the combination to nutritional balance. Eating this combination on a regular daily basis while cutting down on fats, salts and sugars and being moderately active can help maintain a healthy weight and overall wellness.

  • 6 ounces of grain
  • 5 ounces of protein
  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 3 cups of dairy
  • 2 cups of fruit

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion provides a wealth of nutrition information and tools such as the 2015 Dietary Food Guidelines. Tips for each food group as follows:

Grains (6 ounces): Make half your grains whole grains

Proteins (5 ounces): Go lean with protein – choose lean proteins such as poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes

Vegetables (3 cups): Vary your veggies – choose different colors and textures concentrating on dark, green leafy vegetables and orange vegetables

Dairy (3 cups): Get your calcium rich foods – choose low-fat or fat-free (skim) milk and milk products

Fruits (2 cups) : Focus on fruits – choose different colors and textures

Michigan State University Extension provides free health and nutrition programming throughout the state and is available to families and professionals through community based (group) programming or worksite wellness programs. To learn more easy tips on nutrition, food preparation, food budgeting and physical activities, contact your local MSU Extension office.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).