So you want to ensure that your family follows the right diet. But you don’t know how to begin and with what types of foods. How about following the Food Pyramid guidelines? The Food Pyramid is an outline of what to eat each day based on some dietary guidelines. Far from being a rigid prescription it’s a general guide that lets you choose a healthy diet that’s just right for you and your family.
The Pyramid advises you not only to eat a variety of foods for the nutrients you need, it also gives you the right amount of calories to maintain healthy weight.
Start with plenty of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, vegetables, and fruits. Add 2-3 servings from the milk group and 2-3 servings from the meat group. Remember to go easy on fats, oils, and sweets, the foods in the uppermost tip of the Pyramid.
Be sure to eat at least the lowest number of servings from the five major food groups listed below. You need them for the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein they provide. Just try to pick the lowest fat choices from the food groups. Fats, oils, and sweets must be used as sparingly as possible to decrease disease risks such as dental caries, diabetes, and heart disease. However, some fat should be taken daily for normal growth and health.
- Milk, Yogurt and Cheese — 1 cup
- Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts — 90 grams of cooked lean meat; 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans; 1 egg (= 31 grams of lean meat)
- Vegetable — 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables; 1/2 cup of other vegetables (raw or cooked); 3/4 cup of vegetable juiceli Fruit: 1 medium apple, banana, orange; 1 cup of fruit juice
- Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta — 1 bread slice; 31 grams of ready-to-eat cereal; 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.
The shape of the Food Guide Pyramid shows proportions–more servings of breads and cereals are needed than other food groups. Children need the same numbers of servings as adults.
Some Pointers for Parents
Providing the right foods results in nutritious food choices by the child, even if the child is a fussy eater. The trick is to provide a variety of nutritious choices from the Food Guide Pyramid. Do not keep high fat or high sweet foods around for the child when he’s hungry or to reward him for good behaviour. Foods used as rewards, celebrations, and treats are usually high in fat, sugar, and salt. Avoid the promise of a chocolate bar to your son if he finishes homework on time.
Children eat what they see others eating at meals and snacks and what they experience. If you drink milk, they drink milk. If you eat vegetables, they eat vegetables. If you fill up on junk food, the child fills up on junk food. Be the child’s model.
And, finally, stay active. And encourage your children to do so, too.
So get on the track to eating right. This diet, combined with some exercise, is a good way of ensuring you stay fit and healthy.