Hello Healthy Triangle!
The Kids Food Pyramid is a food guide designed by the US Department of Agriculture. The pyramid displays the five major food groups a child needs to stay healthy, nourished, and strong. Beside the different food groups are the corresponding recommended serving sizes per day depending on the child's age. Let's look at that in bullet points:
Grains: 3-5 oz. (2-8 years old), 5-7 oz. (9-18 years old)
Vegetables: 1-1.5 cups (2-8 years old), 2.5-3 cups (9-18 years old)
Fruits: 1.5 cups (2-8 years old), 1.5-2 cups (9-18 years old)
Dairy Products: 2 cups (2-8 years old), 3 cups (9-18 years old)
Protein Group 2-4 oz. (2-8 years old), 5-6 oz. (9-18 years old)
The above points are the simplest way to chart how much of each food group your child should be eating in order to stay healthy. You can read the nutrition labels found in the back of packaged food so you know how many ounces are in one serving. This will help you maintain and monitor your child's daily intake.
Try to make half of your grains servings "whole grain". This will be listed in the nutrition facts found in the back label. Off the bat, though, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal are whole grain foods. If your child isn't a fan of milk, try getting them to eat yogurt, calcium fortified orange juice, or cheeses. If your child does like milk, however, switch them to skim milk at the age of three, this will lessen their fat intake.
Remember that these are not super strict rules. Having more fruits and vegetables than the recommended serving size per day is okay. If your child is very active or energetic, having more servings from the other food groups is also okay as they are probably burning a lot of calories and need to make up for it by eating more.
Now, what is not in the pyramid?
If you look at the kids' food pyramid, you will see that there are no sugary foods, processed meats, junk food, desserts, or soda drinks to be found. This isn't to say you can never have any of these. You can as long as it is not a part of your daily diet.
To reiterate and clarify: it's okay so long as you don't eat it everyday.
Some of the foods not found on the chart, like bitter-sweet chocolate pumps endorphins like serotonin into your system and helps your mood and overall feeling. Just be sure to keep it at a minimum or moderate level for both you and your children. Healthy eating should be the goal of each and every day!
Salt is also not found on the pyramid because many of the healthy foods we buy already have salt in them. Our bodies and our children's bodies do need salt, but not in the amounts that we usually take them in, which is already usually quite bad for you. So use your salt sparingly when cooking!
It is important to follow this food pyramid as best you can. At the end of the day, you're mapping out a better life for your child. Instilling healthy habits and following this pyramid prevents your child from being overweight, diabetes, heart diseases, chronic illnesses, cancer, and a host of other medical problems. This ensures your child a longer lifespan and an easier one too!
Keep in mind that there are many ways to be healthy, and there are countless options out there that fit well into the pyramid. Find the one that works best for you, your child, and the rest of the family.
Want a healthy eating child? Having a healthy child is one of the best things a parent can ask for. Learn more about how you can get your child to eat healthy by figuring out What IS Healthy Eating for Children?