When it comes to feeding your children, it may seem like there are a large number of rules to follow. Your child needs certain nutrients to grow strong and healthy, but you also have to limit treats and serving sizes so that your child does not develop weight and health problems down the line.
Obesity has become a common problem in the United States. Almost 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half of them get too do very little physical activity.
U.S. nutrition officials are trying to help with this problem. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created some new dietary guidelines to provide more practical advice on how to give your child a healthier, more balanced diet. The new guidelines suggest that kids eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains than in the past and that they get from 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
The recommendations are tailored for children based on their age, gender, and exercise habits. You can find out which guidelines are appropriate for your child by logging on to the USDA’s website. (See the Additional Resources tab).
Along with the new guidelines, the Food Guide Pyramid also got a new look and a new name: MyPyramid.
Inside this pyramid, six stripes represent the five food groups as well as the oils and fats that your child should get each day. Stairs on the pyramid represent the importance of exercising and the simple steps you can take each day to improve your child’s health.
On the pyramid, each colour represents a different food group.
• Orange: grains
• Green: vegetables
• Red: fruits
• Blue: dairy and calcium-rich food
• Purple: proteins (meats, beans, and fish)
• Yellow: fats and oils
Bear in mind that the serving sizes are just guidelines and that, on some days, your child may eat more or less of a certain food group. That’s still OK. Different foods have different proportions of nutrients, so it is important to offer your child a variety of foods on a regular basis. Moderation is the key to a healthy diet.
Also, remember that the nutrition content of a certain type of food can vary depending on how you prepare it. Apples, for example, are packed with nutrients and can make a great after-school snack. Apple pie has all those nutrients too. But it contains lots of fat and sugar, too, so you may want to limit how much you serve of it.
John Rifkind is a contributing editor at FitnessHealthArticles.com. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.