What kids and teens eat daily now will impact their health and quality of life for many years to come. The amount of food children eat is also one of the most important parts of building a fit lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight. Since children and adults have different calorie and nutrition needs, how much your child eats will affect their weight and risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

MyPlate is an easy to follow food guide that was created by the USDA to help parents feed their kids nutritious meals. With its new icon, MyPlate reminds us how to eat better by showing a balanced plate that divides the four food groups into equally sized sections: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, and Protein.

This is a big change from the food pyramid that made grains the largest food group by placing it at the bottom of the pyramid. As a result, the food pyramid overemphasized grains with 6-11 daily servings and gave less importance to vegetables and fruits with only 5-9 servings from these two food groups.

The MyPlate icon makes it easier for kids and teens to eat healthy since now every food group has an equal portion on their plate. What your child eats and drinks will impact almost every aspect of their well-being including quality of life, risk of disease, self-esteem, academic performance, and energy.

MyPlate is a Great Visual Tool

The USDA’s MyPlate program was designed to make balanced eating easy to visualize and apply to everyday life. Kids can clearly see that half of their plate should be filled with colorful fruits and veggies, about ¼ with lean protein and the remaining part left for grains, half of them being whole.

But you might be wondering: Do I have to serve all the food groups at each meal? Do I really have to give my kids veggies for breakfast? If breakfast or lunch doesn’t include a veggie or fruit, give them at snack time or dinner. Use the plate as a guide for planning and serving a variety of healthy foods.

The goal is to think of the plate as an entire day’s worth of eating: So, throughout the day, try to make half of what your kids eat vegetables and fruits, and the other half grains and protein foods. An occasional treat is fine, but be careful to limit foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.

You can teach your kids how to use MyPlate by focusing on these five simple messages: 1) Half of a healthy plate should always include fruits and vegetables, 2) Drink water instead of soda and sugary juices, 3) Make half of your grains whole, 4) Go lean with protein, and 5) Try more healthy snacks.

The pictures on the left below show an unhealthy plate. However, by using MyPlate an unbalanced plate can easily become a balanced and healthy plate. It is all a matter of adding more fruits and veggies, cutting back on grains, and eating less carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates in particular.

By changing the meals below from an unhealthy to a balanced plate, we reduced the total calories from 7,224 to only 2,399 calories. That is almost 5,000 less calories! Keep in mind that it is important to avoid fried foods and instead make grilling and cooking at home a daily habit. Also MyPlate is not just for kids, but for adults too. So get the whole family involved and start today making it a healthy plate!

Schedule Your Free Class Today

At Kalina’s Fitness, our mission is to give teens (ages 8-18) the tools they need to transform their lives and build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. By combining nutritional counseling, group support, and exercise classes, our Lean Teen Program empowers kids and teens to achieve their fitness goals. We are driven by a strong belief that every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential.

It all starts with a one-on-one nutritional consultation to better understand your child’s eating habits. Your health coach will prepare a nutrition plan that gives your family the flexibility needed to make permanent lifestyle changes. Register today for a Free Day Pass so we can help your child to build healthy habits and get fit. We look forward to serving you with excellence. Thank you for visiting us!