University of Illinois Extension

HOT Project: Healthy Outcomes for Teens

Why Are Foods Put Together in Groups?

There are six main food groups that everyone should know.
  • The Grains and Starchy Vegetables Group
  • The Fruit Group
  • The Vegetable Group
  • The Meat, Meat Substitutes, Eggs, and Cheese Group
  • The Milk and Yogurt Group
  • The Fats and Oils Group
It is important to eat foods from each group every day. The type and the amount of food that you chose to eat can either keep you healthy or make you unhealthy.

There are a certain number of servings from each food group you should eat each day. These are based on how many calories you need. How many calories you need are based on how much you are growing and how much physical activity you get.

Think about what you ate yesterday.

  • How many fruit servings did you eat?
  • How many vegetable servings?
  • How many meat servings?
  • How many milk servings?
  • How many grains servings?

There are many things you should consider when planning a meal. It is important to look for foods with whole grain, because they are healthier. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, or barley is a grain product. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. These foods are rich in carbohydrates.

You should get about 60 minutes of activity every day.  Walking upstairs, skateboarding, and practicing karate all count as physical activity.

Think about all the things that you did yesterday, did it include physical activity? What kind of physical activity did you do in the morning? In the afternoon? After supper?

Staying physically active is important to stay healthy. Physical active balances the calories we eat. Doing more physical activity will use more calories. The best type of physical activity to burn calories is aerobic.

To find out how to balance your food calories and energy calories, go to

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