Parents are often worried about how they can get the variety of healthy food that they need to introduce to their kids. A great way to do that is to follow the kids’ food pyramid. You can see there the different food groups that you need to make certain that your kids would eat. According to the food pyramid levels, your kids get to have a balanced meal that can give them the nourishment that they need as they grow. Is the kids food pyramid the same as the traditional one?
Kids Food Pyramid: Is it Different?
Everyone needs to have the right amount of nutrition in their body. Good food means better chances of building a healthy body strong enough to ward off any sickness or infection. Parents want this most especially for their kids, so they want to make sure that they give the right amount of everything for their little one. This is where the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed the Kids Food Pyramid. This food guide makes it easier for kids to understand what they need to eat and for parents and guardians to create meal plans that are both nutritious and complete.
In the new Kids Food Pyramid, USDA made use of vertical color-coded sections that represent the 6 food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, dairy, and fats and oil. Each section has different widths, denoting the portion size that you need to consume per food group. For example, a good food plate should contain more carbs, veggies, and fruits, fat-free, then a good amount of meat for protein, and a glass of milk. These sections also appear in the traditional food pyramid but are placed horizontally, making it seem that the section with the bigger portion is the most important. With the new food guide for kids, every food group gets the same significance and value; it only dictates the portioning.
There is also the Kids’ Healthy Eating Plate, an informative visual guide on what foods should be on a child’s plate when it comes to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These concepts hold the same thought and importance, but we would like to put an emphasis more on the new Kids’ food pyramid for the time being.
The Healthy Food Groups
Here are the food groups as represented by the color-coded vertical sectioning.
Orange – Grains (cereals, bread, rice, pasta, etc.)
The widest among the sections, kids need carbohydrates to get enough energy for the day. Active kids need to consume certain amounts of whole grains in rice, bread, and oats, based on their age and weight. For instance, kids 2 to 8 years of age should have 3 to 5 oz of whole grains daily, while 9 to 18-year-old teens should consume 5 to 7 oz.
Green – Vegetables
Consider fiber as an essential component for one’s digestion. Eating green leafy veggies can help in making sure our kids’ bowel movements run smoothly, eliminating wastes consistently without fear of diarrhea or constipation. Make sure that your kids consume at least 1 to 3 cups of vegetables for the whole day.
Red – Fruits
A good source of organic sugar that converts to energy, kids should consume fruits also because of the essential vitamins and minerals you can get from them. Give kids 1 to 2 cups of fruits, whether as a dessert or a snack!
Yellow – Oils and fats
This section is not necessarily considered a food group, but these also give good things to our body, such as helping us ward off disease risks, maintain our body temperature, and many more. As a rule of thumb, you can opt for a fat-free plate to reduce your risk of developing heart conditions or obesity. Make sure that you consume fat-free meals, or at least you choose the good fats, or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and add them to your kids’ diet sparingly.
Blue – Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
A very good source of calcium and vitamin D, dairy foods keep our bones and joints healthy and strong, making us move and groove better. Ensure that your kids drink 2 to 3 cups of milk, or 1 to 2 ½ oz of cheese every day.
Purple – Protein (meat, fish, nuts, eggs, and beans)
One more thing that you can see in this new food pyramid is the presence of the stairs on the side of the diagram. This symbolizes the fact that while food gives you good nutrition, exercise also promotes a healthier body. The combination of both makes it easier for parents and guardians to provide better nourishment for the kids.
Kids Food Pyramid: What About Snacks?
Children, like adults, frequently fall into the pit of choosing junk foods for snacks. The convenience, flavor, and affordability of these treats capture their tastes and cravings. Unfortunately, these do not provide the goodness you need for your growing child. What’s worse is the fact that sugary, preservative-rich foods can hurt your overall health, starting with your teeth. Parents should consider getting excellent snack options in plain sight for children to grab after school or on weekends between meals.
For parents, fruits are the best bet. Make a fruit bowl for your movie time. Slice apples and prepare a peanut butter dip so they can experiment with flavor combinations. Prepare veggie sticks; cucumber, carrots, celery, and even zucchini can do the trick! Yogurt mixed with wild berries and honey can satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth.
Kids Food Pyramid: Practice What You Preach
Apart from making sure that your kids consume the right amount of each food group, you should also act as a good example to your little ones. Let us encourage each other to choose foods in their most nutrient-dense forms as often as possible, to keep added sugars and saturated fat intakes to a minimum.
Become an advocate of having a healthy diet and exercising so that not only are you introducing good food, but you are also maintaining the strength and overall health of your body through working out and staying fit and active.
Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate
Fats and Cholesterol
A Food Guide Pyramid for Kids Helps Teach Good Nutrition
MyPlate Food Guide
Back to Basics: All About MyPlate Food Groups
Updated: The Kids’ Food Pyramid