The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently replaced the food pyramid with a dinner plate logo, making it a little easier to plan healthy, nutritious, and balanced meals for your family. Rather than bars of food groups stacked into a pyramid, the new icon is a simple, colorful dinner plate that encourages us to serve our kids more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein and dairy.
According to the USDA’s web page, ChooseMyPlate.gov, fill one side of your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables. On the other half of the plate, serve grains and protein. Aim to make half the grains your child eats whole wheat, rather than processed white flour. At our house, we make our sandwiches and toast with 100 percent whole wheat bread. When choosing protein, low-fat meat and chicken is recommended, plus a serving of seafood a week. Low-fat means ground beef with less than 80 percent fat or skinless chicken. A click on the beverage glass marked dairy reminds us that low-fat or skim is best and that soy is a good option.
The MyPlate site is loaded with easy-to-follow information. Start at the dinner plate icon and choose a food group. Clicking on that leads to an explanation of the food group and examples of food items. From there, the reader can click on serving size, recipes, tips, related topics, and other interactive tools for healthy eating. I found one click to be especially helpful: “How much is needed?” stated the daily serving for the food group not just by gender but age group. For instance, boys ages 14-18 should aim for 3 cups of milk a day, while children 2-3 years need 2 cups.
Of course, whether it is displayed as a plate or a pyramid, the information is a guideline. Nutrition recommendations may change depending on a child’s specific situation. Always find out from your family doctor what is best for your children’s nutrition.
Visit online at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Reviewed June 14, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton