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MyPlate Kid's Place: Food Guidelines for Children

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Any parent who has tried to navigate a well-stocked grocery store with a hungry child in tow knows it is a challenge. Weaving through endless aisles of candy, frozen pizza, chips, soda, and sugary cereals without at least one incident of pleading or bargaining is considered a major accomplishment.

But on a daily basis, where is the proper guidance to steer through the numerous food choices?

Getting to Know MyPlate

Since 1894, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been providing Americans with dietary guidelines. In general, they have focused on eating from specified food groups and emphasized moderation, proper proportions, and variety. An updated version of the USDA's guidelines for children is called MyPlate Kid's Place. It shows the image of a dinner plate divided into colored sections:

ColorFood Group
OrangeGrains
GreenVegetables
RedFruits
BlueLow fat or fat-free dairy
PurpleProtein foods

An important feature of MyPlate Kid's Place is that each section is a particular size. This is to highlight the proportions that adults and children should aim for when planning their meals, for example:

  • Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables
  • About a quarter of the plate should be grains, especially whole grains
  • The rest should be protein
Before Your Next Shopping Trip…

MyPlate Kid's Place provides parents with important concepts that virtually all experts agree on: making healthy food choices and practicing eating in moderation. So before hitting the grocery aisles with your little one, take the time to catch up on the suggestions found on MyPlate Kid's Place. The USDA's main messages include:

  • Encourage your child to enjoy their food, but to eat portions that are right for their age and activity level.
  • Make half of your child's daily intake of grains whole grains.
  • Read food labels. Find out how much sodium is in packaged food. Choose lower sodium options.
  • Encourage your child to drink water. Leave the sugary drinks behind.
  • Healthy snacking throughout the day.
  • Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your child's diet.

Pair MyPlate Kid's Place with SuperTracker to optimize your child's options. SuperTracker is a place where you can plan meals, track food intake and exercise while setting personalized goals. You can find more information on the SuperTracker website.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

US Department of Agriculture
http://www.choosemyplate.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canada's Food Guide
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

References:

MyPlate Kid's Place. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids. Accessed October 15, 2013.

Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf. Accessed October 15, 2013 .

Nutrition (pediatric preventive care). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated September 10, 2013. Accessed October 15, 2013.

SuperTracker. US Department of Agriculture SuperTracker website. Available at: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed October 15, 2013.



Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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