By contributing writer Marci
In this world of fast food, snack packs, and sugar filled everything, teaching kids about nutrition is very important. You can get detailed and teach them about vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and calories in a way they understand. There are lots of great resources for that. But, what do you do with that knowledge?
In our house, the basis of our nutrition education is all about good food choices. When we choose to eat good, quality, real food, we automatically get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that we need for healthy bodies.
A Meal Plan Guide
A starting point for making good food choices is the My Plate campaign from the USDA. This is not a perfect dietary representation for everyone, but that is another topic altogether. The My Plate campaign does teach that our bodies need a variety of food to stay healthy. That’s a good place to start.
Using the My Plate graphic, we can see that a balanced diet is made up of grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dairy. Kids can use this to visualize what makes up a balanced diet. I use this graphic to challenge the kids to come up with their own healthy menus.
First, the kids make lists of their favorite foods in each category. Remember, kids might need a little reminding of what is in their favorite family dishes. For instance, lasagna contains grains, meat, dairy and vegetables. So, there might be some overlap of the categories.
Then, the kids put the foods together into healthy meals they will actually eat. The ChooseMyPlate.gov site gives serving size recommendations for each food group, so the kids can choose the right serving sizes for their age.
Having the kids plan their own healthy meals is a great nutrition lesson and makes life easier for mom. They won’t plan meals with foods they won’t eat! Try this with your kids.