Food Pyramid for Kids – Know the Key Components

Food Pyramid for Kids – Know the Key Components

What is a Food Pyramid?

Children do need healthy and balanced food in order to complement their growing bodies. Balanced food does include proportionate amounts of food thus belonging to certain specific, but basic food groups, such as vegetables, grains, and so on. To be able to understand balanced food, a food pyramid is made use of. It is a pyramid-shaped illustration that does provide a pictorial view of the various food items and their appropriate proportions that children need to eat. In other words, it is a food chart that does provide details about the required amount of fats, vitamins, and minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates for one’s children.
The top-most portion is the tapering and does indicate food items that must be consumed in smaller quantities. The lower-most broad portion of the pyramid does indicate food items that can actually be consumed in larger quantities.

A typical food pyramid (top to bottom) does consist of:

• Top tapering layer – Food as well as drinks high in fat, sugar, and salt
• Second layer – Fats as well as oils
• Third layer – Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts
• Fourth layer – Milk, curds and other dairy products
• Fifth layer – Vegetables as well as fruits
• Sixth layer – Cereals and bread

Why is Food Pyramid Important for Kids?

Growing children do require carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber as well as fats. However, the amount of each of these important components does differ much depending on the age as well as gender. A food pyramid or chart does provide general guidelines to help out parents to understand the need and components of a complete as well as a balanced diet. Generally, a balanced diet, with adequate nutrients must include at least 3 to 5 food groups in every meal.

When one is in doubt, it is advisable to refer to a food pyramid, which does act as a guideline providing one complete details about the optimal quantities of food components that are essentially required for the healthy growth of one’s child.

Food Pyramid for Kids – Know the Key ComponentsWhat are the Key Components of Food Pyramid?

1. Grains

Children are involved in a lot of physical activities and do need carbohydrates as a source of energy. Grains, that include bread and rotis, are a source of carbohydrates.

Age Group Daily Recommendation (in Ounces(oz)) Food Sources
2 to 3 years 3-5oz · Whole grain bread

· Roti

· Potatoes

· Whole wheat food items like chapattis and pasta

· Rice

· Cereals

· Oatmeal

· Corn

· Barley

4 to 8 years 5-8 oz
9 to 13 years Girls – 5-7 oz

Boys – 5-9 oz

2. Vegetables

Children do need minerals as well as vitamins. Vegetables are a good source of these nutrients. Green-leafy vegetables are rich in nutrients, and it is also recommended to include 5 or even more green as well as colored vegetables in the daily meals of children.

The following table provides a list of the recommended daily servings for children:

Age Group Daily Recommendation (in cups) Food Sources
2 to 3 years 1 cup Vegetables include raw or cooked ones. You can also give them as purees or smoothies. Some of the vegetables include:

· Carrots

· Broccoli

· Beetroots

· Spinach

· Tomatoes

· Leafy greens such as Palak

4 to 8 years 1.5 cup
9 to 13 years Girls – 2 cups

Boys – 2.5 cups

3. Fruits

Fruits are indeed a good source of vitamins and fiber content. Whole fruits are recommended when compared to fruit juices.

Age Group Daily Recommendation (in cups) Food Sources
2 to 3 years 1-1.5 cup Fruits include:

· Apple

· Banana

· Orange

· Peach and many other fruits that your child prefers

· Dried fruits

4 to 8 years 1-1.5 cups
9 to 13 years 1.5-2 cups

4. Milk/Dairy

Milk and dairy products do provide the required amount of calcium, vitamins and proteins for one’s child. These nutrients do help in bone growth and building of strong teeth.

 

Age Group Daily Recommendation (in cups) Food Sources
2 to 3 years 2 cups · Milk

· Yogurt/ Curds

· Paneer

· Cheese

· Buttermilk

4 to 8 years 2.5 cups
9 to 13 years 3 cups

5. Meat/Beans/Fish

Meat, beans, and fish are indeed rich in proteins that are essentially required for a child’s growth. They do help in building and replacing the tissues in the child’s body.

Age Group Daily Recommendation (in Ounces(oz)) Food Sources
2 to 3 years 2 oz · Meat

· Fish

· Dry beans

· Eggs

· Nuts

· Peanut butter

· Seeds

· Soya beans

· Pulses

· Black beans and green grams

· Peas

· Sprouts

Additionally, the food pyramid also does include fats as well as oils. Fats and oils might sound unhealthy. However, all fats do not come under the unhealthy category. Fats do occupy a small portion of the food pyramid. Children do require an adequate amount of fats and oils as they are still going through a developmental phase and are involved in a lot of physical activities that do require energy. Our body requires fats and oils for the following reasons:

o To protect important organs
o To control body temperature
o To help skin cells, never and brain

Cod liver oil, olive, beans, sunflower seeds, and peanuts are good sources of healthy fats. These sources provide monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are good for one’s child’s health.
One of the most vital requirements that do complement a healthy and balanced food is water. Ensure that one’s children drink plenty of water. Fluids do play an important role in one’s child’s meal. So, one must include items such as watermelon, coconut water, oranges as well as buttermilk as part of one’s child’s meal.

The following is the recommended water intake for kids:

• 5 to 8 years – 5 glasses (1 liter)
• 9 to12 years – 7 glasses (1.5 liters)
• 13+ years – 8 to 10 glasses (2 liters)

What is My Plate and how is it different from Food Pyramid?

Much emphasis these days is being given to good healthy food. Blending an appropriate amount of varied food items can also help one to be healthier in the present as well as in the future. Eating healthy food cannot, in fact, be restricted to a couple of components. It does need to be molded by various factors such as one’s food preferences, stages of life, access to the food items, culture, personal choices and decisions cum traditions.

MyPlate is a colorful plate illustration that does remind people to eat a range of healthy foods and also to ensure that they eat less of some foods and more of other foods. The plate is indeed divided into four parts and that includes a separate section beside the plate thus indicating a side order.

Following are the parts of the plate:

• Vegetables
• Fruits
• Grains
• Proteins
• And a side order of dairy products

Differences between a Food Pyramid and MyPlate:

1. Proper Indication of Food Groups

The representation of food items in a pyramidal structure does indicate that some food items are very important and some are less important. Grains are very essential such as fruits and vegetables. However, in MyPlate, the plate is divided as follows:

• Fruits and vegetables – half the plate
• Grains and protein – around one-quarter of the plate
• The divided portions pictorially give an idea about the required amount of nutrients.

2. Easy, Simple, and Relatable Illustration

The food pyramid has indeed varied bands that do indicate the food groups. This format is not very easy to comprehend. However, MyPlate does follow a simple, easy as well as relatable format. We do make use of plates to eat our food. So, this format of using a plate does indicate the approximate quantities of food groups that are easier to understand. Every time one eats a meal, one can relate to the quantities and then fix one’s meal accordingly.

3. The absence of Fats and Oils

The food pyramid does include fats as well as oils as these are also important components of one’s body. However, MyPlate does not include fats and oils. It is indeed automatically understood that some of our food items are rather prepared thus making use of oils and some food items from the basic food groups that contain fat. So, fats and oils are not actually explicitly included in the plate.

4. The absence of Food Servings

The food pyramid does indicate the number of servings from each food category that one must include in a meal. However, MyPlate does not indicate the number of servings. It just emphasizes the quantity of each food group. It does indicate how to balance the food that one takes.

One needs various guidelines to be able to understand the nutrients that one needs to have a balanced meal, to ensure that one enjoys one’s meal, drink plenty of water and also avoid overeating.

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About the Author: Danteshwari Bhaskar

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