I recently saw the newly released Food Pyramid which gives recommendations for the amount of food to eat daily. I'm used to thinking that if I eat four servings from all the food groups each day, I'm probably getting all the nutrients I need. This looks like I should eat a lot more food. How much should I eat daily?

At first glance, it does look like we are ``given permission' to eat more. The new recommended diet emphasizes the importance of eating in moderation rather than variety. What we have been taught in the past is to eat a wide variety of foods essentially the same quantities.The new recommendations are encouraging us to eat more of what's good for us: breads and grains, fruits and vegetables, and to eat less meat, fat and sweets. On a daily basis, we should be consuming 6-11 servings of breads and grain products; 3-5 servings of vegetables; 2-4 servings of fruits; 2-3 servings of milk products; and 2-3 servings of meat, fish, and poultry.

It is also recommended that we use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.

It is very important with these new recommendations that you pay attention to serving size. Although these recommendations give guidelines regarding the number of servings per day from each of these groups, recommendations regarding servings sizes are not given. What is a serving for you is probably not a serving for someone else! We also tend to eat larger servings of foods we really like opposed to foods we don't care too much for. How many times have you eaten a larger serving of spinach compared to ice cream?

So, if you are consuming amounts within these guidelines, you can probably rest assured that you are getting all the nutrients you need. The foods you chose as your servings will be critical in how you assure that you are meeting your individual needs.\

Several of my family members have high blood pressure and my doctor has just told me that my blood pressure is slightly high. I am also overweight, and he feels that if I lose weight and monitor my sodium intake, I have a good chance of preventing my blood pressure from getting any higher and needing medication. I need more than a printed diet sheet. Where can I find a diet counselor to give me the information I need?\ You're smart to want to make changes before your blood pressure and weight are out of control and medication is needed. The person best qualified to give you the information you need is a registered dietitian.

A dietitian can assess your individual needs and formulate recommendations based on your health status. This will provide you with more practical, realistic information that you are more likely to follow and will increase your chances of being successful in making the necessary nutritional changes. In addition, a registered dietitian can work with your physician to make other changes that may be needed.

You may also be interested to learn that in the state of North Carolina, as in 26 other states, effective June 1, 1992, an act was passed to regulate the practice of dietetics and nutrition. With this act, only a person who is licensed, or otherwise authorized under this act, will be able to use the titles ``dietitian,' ``nutritionist,' or ``licensed dietitian/nutritionist.' In addition, no person will be able to engage in the practice of dietetics/nutrition or provide nutrition-care services unless licensed or otherwise authorized to do in accordance with the provisions of this act.

In the Greensboro area, there are several private-practice licensed, registered dietitians who can work with you to give you the information you need. In addition, The Moses H. Cone Nutrition Management Center provides outpatient nutrition counseling to both physician- and self-referred individuals.

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Healthy Advice is prepared by members of the Greensboro District of the N.C. Dietetic Association and appears the first Wednesday of each month in Life. This month's column was written by Lyn S. Richardson, R.D., M.Ed., administrative director, The Moses H. Cone Nutrition Management Center, 1904 N. Church St., Greensboro, N.C. 27405. (919-271-4936). Readers with questions about nutrition may write Healthy Advice, Flair, Greensboro News & Record, P.O. Box 20848, Greensboro, N.C. 27420.

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