The original food pyramid started back in the 1990s by the USDA, but unfortunately, they got it wrong. Why? Nobody is quite certain. Part of the problem may have come from lack of knowledge known today, while another reason may have been from powerful lobbying groups that altered the outcome. Either way, food and nutrition guidelines for healthy kids is one of the most important goals for parents here in Irvine and institutions like schools. Knowing how to start kids out on a healthy track can establish a lifetime of healthy eating.
Nothing is wrong with boosting your vegetable and fruit intake, but don’t count potatoes in that group.
One of the biggest problems with the new MyPlate, is that they count starchy vegetables the same way they count healthier ones. While there’s nothing wrong with a few potatoes a week, they are actually somewhere in between refined carbohydrates and whole grains when it comes to nutrition. A healthy diet for a child should include more colorful vegetables, with far more greens, red, purple and yellow. Make sure your child gets approximately—based on their age and weight—2 cups of varied vegetables with most of them colorful and 1 ½ cups of fruit.
Should dairy be emphasized?
There’s a lot of controversy about having dairy in the diet. Besides the fact that dairy can create digestive problems for some people, there’s no need for more than one or two servings of dairy a day. Those opposed to dairy say it causes respiratory problems, which can come from digestive upsets and acid reflux. There’s also evidence that high milk consumption actually increases the potential for bone fractures, heart disease later in life, some forms of cancer and anemia. There’s no need to have milk with every meal, plus cheese, yogurt and other milk products in between meals.
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but are still not given their due.
One problem with using the food pyramid or MyPlate is that neither one identifies the type of fat to include in a diet or gives fat the importance it deserves. While fat is loaded with calories, it also fills you up quickly. Healthy fat is essential for a child’s body development and growth. It’s necessary to create hormones, absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, K, D and E and to create insulation for the tissues of the nervous system. Without enough in a child’s diet, their nervous system and brain growth may not have normal development. The brain is 70% fat. There are three types of fat, saturated, unsaturated and transfats. Transfats and hydrogenated fats have no place in a diet, while adequate amounts of the other two are necessary.
- Even though MyPlate suggests some of the fruit can come from juice, your child is better off eating the fruit and drinking water. Fruit juice is high in calories, without the fiber that aids the digestive system.
- There’s nothing wrong with the recommendations for vegetables and fruit in the government MyPlate, but emphasis should be placed on using the ones with various colors and keeping potatoes to a minimum.
- You don’t have to serve only beef, chicken or pork to get the right amount of protein in your child’s diet, nuts, eggs and beans are a few other sources that should be included.
- Choose water as a drink of choice for your child. If you’re feeling guilty, like less of a parent by serving water, make it bottled water.