You asked

What should I know about the food pyramid?

The food pyramid is a graphic representation of the suggested servings of the six major food categories to maintain optimal nutrition and can be used as a guide for children over 5 years. The idea is to eat more foods from the shelves which are larger and less from those which are smaller. Each of these food categories is vital to good health.

How do you apply this to children when their appetites change so dramatically from one day to the next? Well, first of all, you have to make sure that they eat a large variety of foods in order to take in the various nutrients that their bodies require. Some days, a child will eat everything in sight, and the next day, he will eat like a bird. The important thing to watch is their weight gain. As long as they are gaining weight normally and are active, there is nothing to worry about.

Here are the basic guidelines:
  • Meat , fish , eggs,  beans – Two servings per day. 50-75g (2-3oz) of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish, 1/2 cup cooked beans. (2 tablespoons peanut butter or 1 egg equals the protein of 30 grams of meat) limit to 7 eggs a week.
  • Milk and Dairy – aim for 3 servings per day. 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of yogurt, 30 grams (1 ounce) of cheese.
  • Fruit and Vegetables – aim for 5 servings a day. Eat a variety of colours. Count smoothies and fruit juice as only one serving.
  • Starchy carbohydrates (rice, bread, cereals and potatoes) Six servings per day. 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of cooked pasta or rice, 30 grams (1 ounce) of breakfast cereal 
  • Foods high in fat and/or sugar – keep these to a minimum as they don’t provide many nutrients and in excess can contribute to obesity and dental caries

Fats should make up no more than 30 percent of a child’s daily diet. This means that a 1600 calorie diet should have 53 grams of fat at the most per day. It’s also important to pay attention to what kind of fat your child is eating. Saturated fats from meat and dairy products can raise cholesterol and should be limited to no more than 10 percent of the entire day’s calories.

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