The Government Guidelines to Healthy Eating For Kids

Every five years, the U.S. Government updates its guidelines for healthy nutrition. Traditionally, they have been known as the “Food Pyramid,” because of the hierarchical structure of their recommendations. In 2005, a new concept was adopted, called “MyPyramid.”

There are five food groups plus oils, which are not a food group but are still part of a healthful and balanced diet. In addition, special emphasis is given to the importance of regular exercise and physical fitness. MyPyramid was also adopted for the nutritional needs for children. This is the version I am referring to on the following pages.

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Pyramid: Grains Why is it important to include grains, especially whole grains, in my child’s diet?
Grains provide many nutrients vital for good health. Regular consumption of grains, especially whole grains, which are rich in fiber, can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Eating at least 3 ounces of whole grains a day can also contribute to weight management. Other benefits may include prevention of diabetes and some forms of cancer.

Essential nutrients of grains
Grains are an important source of many nutrients, including dietary fiber, several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, naicin, folate) and minerals (iron, magnesiam, selenium).
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Johnny DoughHow can I add whole grains to my child’s diet?
Start by eating whole grain products instead of refined ones, such as whole wheat bread instead of white bread, or brown rice instead of white rice. You can also use whole grains in soups, like barley in vegetable soups and stews, or bulgur wheat in casseroles and stir-fries. Or you can make pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc. with whole wheat flour. Try whole grain cereal and breading for baked chicken, fish or veal. Even whole grain popcorn and whole grain tortilla chips are preferable to the refined versions.
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Pyramid: VegetablesWhy is it important to include lots of vegetables in my child’s diet?
Adding vegetables regularly to your child’s diet provides many health benefits. Vegetables may help reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and certain cancers.

Essential nutrients of vegetables
Most vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat. They are a prime source for potassium (to maintain healthy levels of blood pressure), fiber (to reduce blood cholesterol), folate (helps the body to form red blood cells) as well as vitamins A, E and C.
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VeggiesHow can I add a good variety of vegetables to my child’s diet?
Buy fresh vegetables when they are in season. Get to know your sources, e.g. by visiting your local farmers market. Use frozen vegetables when they are out of season. Vegetables are generally easy to prepare and can be used in many varieties, such as soups, salads, side dishes, dips, pizzas, sandwiches and snacks. Make sure to limit the sodium content when using canned or seasoned vegetables. Wash your vegetables thoroughly if you serve them raw. Even better, cook or steam vegetables. Always keep your vegetables separate from raw meats, poultry and seafood to avoid contamination.
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