kidspyramid Any parent who has tried to navigate a well-stocked grocery store with a hungry child in tow knows it's a challenge. Weaving through endless aisles of candy, frozen pizza, chips, soda, and sugary cereals without at least one incident of pleading or bargaining is considered a major accomplishment.

But on a daily basis, where is the proper guidance to steer through good and bad food choices? And how can children learn to eat more healthfully?

Helping Kids Make Healthier Food Choices

Since 1894, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been providing Americans with dietary guidelines. In general, they have focused on eating from specified food groups, and emphasized moderation, proportionality, and variety. An updated version of the now familiar “food pyramid” guidelines is now called MyPyramid and MyPyramid for Kids . The latter, developed for children aged 6–11, uses colors, graphics, and language designed to appeal to this age group.

MyPyramid for Kids uses colorful stripes within a pyramid structure to explain the types and quantities of foods that kids should eat. The width of the stripes indicates proportion, and the colors symbolize six specific food groups:

  • Orange: grains
  • Green: vegetables
  • Red: fruits
  • Yellow: fats and oils
  • Blue: milk and dairy products
  • Purple: meat, beans, fish, and nuts

In addition to food, the pyramid also emphasizes exercise. This is depicted by a girl climbing the steps on the side of the pyramid. The message is that it is important to be active every day, and that you can make lifestyle changes “a step at a time.”

The pyramid graphic is just one component of MyPyramid for Kids . Here are additional educational materials:

  • MyPyramid for Kids poster
  • A Close Look at MyPyramid for Kids : a step-by-step explanation of key pyramid concepts
  • Tips for Families: a two-sided handout about eating and physical activity
  • MyPyramid for Kids coloring page
  • MyPyramid for Kids Worksheet: table to help children track their food choices
  • MyPyramid for Kids classroom materials, including lesson plans
  • MyPyramid Blast Off: an interactive computer game
The materials may be downloaded and printed using a computer. You can find the materials on the website .

MyPyramid provides children with important concepts that virtually all experts agree on: making healthful food choices, practicing eating in moderation, and making exercise a priority. So before hitting the grocery aisles with your little one, take the time to catch up on the suggestions found on MyPyramid for Kids first. In doing so, perhaps the battle over fruits and vegetables versus frozen pizza will finally be won.