Healthy food pyramid for kids

Friday, 5 February 2010

Although parents dislike the bribing or bargaining with their kids to make them eat healthy, they should know that they are doing their offspring a tremendous favor, and will eventually be rewarded for their persistence.

We all should consume nutritious foods, but children more so than grown-ups who stopped growing, and whose energy levels no longer are as vibrant as those of toddlers and teens. Young bodies crave lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber, vital supplements generally found only in nutritious foods.

Foods high in sugar and fat are low in minerals and vitamins. Their consumption should be limited. Introduce your kids to healthy snacks, such as fruits or yoghurt. If they insist on something more substantial, make them a sandwich instead of handing them a bag of chips.

You can also talk to them about the “Food Pyramid,” a list of foods broken down by nutritional value. You can use these groups to determine which foods you should eat often, and which ones to avoid.

Group 1.  Extremely healthy foods

These foods should be consumed by your children as often as possible. They are a good source of energy.

-          Fruits and vegetables

-          Breads

-          Cereals

-          Rice and pasta

-          Beans and lentils.

These are all foods derived from plants; they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and can help prevent diseases. Don’t stick to just one kind, but mix and match to get a better variety of the substances they contain. Children should eat at least 6 to 11 servings from this category.

Group 2.  Acceptable foods

These foods still contribute to your health, but should be consumed in moderation.  Children need at least have 3 servings a day from this group.

-          Dairy products such as milk, cheeses and low-fat yoghurts

-          Eggs

-          Lean meat

-          Skinless chicken  

-          Fish

-          Nuts

-          Dry beans

These foods provide the protein your children need to help build strong muscles. They can also repair injuries. Some of these foods also contain important minerals like calcium and iron, which your kids need to grow strong bones and keep up their energy level.

Group 3. Foods to avoid

These foods often contain lots of sugar or fat (or both), yet have little nutritional value. They should be avoided by kids who are overweight or less active.

-          Candy

-          Chips

-          Chocolate bars

-          Cakes, muffins and cookies

-          Ice cream

-          Sugary condiments, like pancake syrup

The food pyramid consists of all of these foods, with those we need the most on the bottom (the biggest layer), working its way up to the least healthy foods on the top (items we should eat the least).


Things to remember

-          Kids should eat healthy foods because they contain vital vitamins, minerals and fiber.

-          Have your kids eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from all food groups.

-          Limit the snacks and pop – some drinks are loaded with sugar.

-          Encourage your kids to drink as much water as possible.

-          Have regular family meals so you can monitor what your kids are eating.

-          Be a role model for your kids. You too will benefit from a healthy meal plan.

-          Involve your children with the cooking and meal planning. Once they understand what is at stake, they will be able to make better decisions about what they eat, even when you are not around.

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