Food Guide Pyramid: A Guide to Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
If you’re the mother of a toddler, ensuring that your child eats healthy food that contains the proper nutrition and vitamins that she needs is important to you. The food pyramid for kids is an integral step to ensuring healthy eating habits for your kids. Because toddlers can be especially picky eaters, making sure that they consume healthy foods is key to their health and development. But what exactly is the food guide pyramid and can it help you make sure your children stay healthy and learn to make healthy food choices?
Food Nutrition Facts: The Food Pyramid
Established in 2005 by the federal government, the new food guide pyramid for children is an essential tool for helping kids develop lifelong healthy eating habits, while playing a crucial role in helping them reach their daily nutritional needs.
Based on the four food groups (grain products, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat products and alternatives), the food guide pyramid is grouped according to five colors and focuses above all on nutrition and variety.
The new food pyramid is designed for toddlers to pre-adolescents and promotes the consumption of a variety of healthy foods from each group on a daily basis, while discouraging the consumption of unhealthy foods, such as those high in saturated or trans fats.
The amount of food a child should eat from each food group on a daily basis is determined by his age, sex and physical activity level.
The food groups included in the kids’ food pyramid guide are grouped by these colors:
- ORANGE: Grains Make sure that half of your children’s intake of grains comes from whole grain sources, such as whole wheat pasta and rice. These types of grains are central to a healthy diet because they contain complex carbohydrates, which give children energy over a long period of time. Four to eight year olds require 4-5 ounces (which is the equivalent of a serving) of grains a day; girls 9 to 13 years of age require 5 ounces of grains daily, while boys in the same age group require 6 ounces of grains daily.
- GREEN: Vegetables Kids should consume a variety of different vegetables such as legumes, broccoli and carrots, since vegetables are a great source of vitamin C and will boost the immune system. Vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber for children, and will assist digestion. Children 4 to 8 years old should have 1 to 1 and ½ cups of vegetables daily, while girls ages 9 to 13 should consume 2 cups of vegetables daily. Boys from 9-13 years of age should consume 2 and ½ cups of vegetables per day
- RED: Fruits Fruits should be a central component of any child’s diet, as they are a great source of vitamins like vitamin A, which helps promote healthy eyes and skin. Fruits like apples, blueberries and oranges are especially important for children’s health as they help boost kids’ immune systems. Children 4-8 years old should have 1 to 1 and ½ cups of fruit per day. Girls and boys between the ages of 9-13 should have 1 and ½ cups of fruit per day
- BLUE: Milk An essential source of calcium (which helps build strong bones and teeth in children), milk and milk products such as yogurt, low-fat cheese and calcium-fortified orange juice are foods that are central to healthy eating for children. Children 4-8 years old should have 1 to 2 servings of milk a day, while girls and boys between the ages of 9-13 should have 3 servings of dairy products daily
- PURPLE: Meat Meat is an important source of iron, which provides kids with the energy they need on a daily basis. Opt for leaner choices for your children’s diet such as skinless chicken and turkey. Children between the ages of 4-8 should have 3 to 4 ounces of meat daily, while both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 13 should consume 5 ounces of meat per day
Moms are also advised to limit their children’s intake of foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, such as cookies, French fries and chips, as these can hinder children’s health and lead to the formation of poor diet habits later on in life.