If you want your diet to be healthy, you need a good foundation. You probably know there’s no one diet that fits everyone. Even within families, each person’s healthy diet will look a bit different. Kids and adults have different tastes. While you may think a kale and quinoa Buddha bowl is the most delicious thing on the planet, your kids may not agree.
Planning a Healthy Diet with Kids
A good resource to look at before you customize your family’s diet is “My Plate.” It’s a resource developed by the USDA in 2010. You may remember the older food guide pyramids of the 1990s and early 2000s. My Plate is a more recent tool that can be a great starting point when planning a healthy diet. The image was designed to replace the pyramid with an image more commonly associated with an actual meal.
My Plate is only a starting point because it’s basic. If you haven’t seen it, it looks like this:
The idea behind My Plate is simple. A healthy diet is balanced. It contains fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy, with an edge toward veggies. You can see why the image won’t work for everyone. For example, if anyone in your family is lactose intolerant, you’ll need to replace dairy with something else. The plate also makes no mention of healthy fats, or fats in general for that matter. But the message is clear: Balance your diet.
My Plate for Kids
If you have kids, using My Plate as a guide to healthy meal planning is a good idea because there are many kid-friendly activities on the USDA website. You can find these at https://www.choosemyplate.gov/children.
In short, guidelines for kids include teaching them the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, understanding why it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables, and encouraging them to eat healthy snacks. Kids are also encouraged to be active as a complement to eating a healthy diet.
Beyond the Basics
Once you understand what a balanced meal looks like, the next step is to learn how to make healthy choices to fill that plate. That means choosing mostly whole, unprocessed foods. It means emphasizing a plant-based diet, and paying attention to which foods are best to avoid.
With the right tools and resources, you’ll find it’s not so hard to eat healthy. You’ll even be able to get the kids involved in ways that are fun!