A Food Guide Pyramid for Kids Helps Teach Good Nutrition

Parents teaching their daughter about food pyramid

Good nutrition plays a major role in building a healthy body and strong teeth. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designed the Food Guide Pyramid for Kids to teach youngsters how to eat well and help parents and caregivers create nutritious meals for their children.

Teach Your Kids About the Food Pyramid

The food pyramid is divided into vertical, brightly colored sections. Each section represents a specific food group, and the width of the section denotes how much should be consumed as part of a healthy diet. On the side of the pyramid are stairs, showing children that good health takes more than just nutritious foods; exercise is essential as well. Parents can print out a copy of this pyramid and post it in the kitchen to use as a teaching aid and menu guide. Adults should explain what each colour represents and teach kids which foods go into each group. Here are the categories:

Orange = Grains (cereals, bread, rice, pasta, etc.)

Green = Vegetables

Red = Fruits

Yellow = Oils and fats

Blue = Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt etc.)

Purple = Protein (meats, fish, nuts and beans)

Parents can extend this lesson by downloading this fun food matching game.

Make Healthy Snacks Available at Home

The pyramid can help parents plan out healthy meals, but what about snacks? Kids often fall into the bad habit of grabbing candy, sodas, donuts and other sugary foods when they make a snack for themselves. Sugar is notorious in creating cavities, and too much of it can lead to obesity. It's best to have good snack options in plain sight for children to grab after school or on weekends between meals.

Parents can keep a bowl filled with fruits for kids to snack on. If a child shies away from plain fruit, Mom and Dad can consider cutting an apple into slices and serving it with peanut butter. This way, the child will get a serving of fruit along with a protein source, and they will be more likely to eat the snack because it's not just fruit. The same can be done with veggies; carrots, celery and zucchini can be sliced and served with hummus or another dip. Additionally, parents can keep yogurt on hand to help kids get more calcium, which contributes to strong teeth.

Make a "You Are What You Eat" Project

Children learn by what they see, so Moms and Dads must be good role models and follow the same rules. There are many fun activities to help drive home the lesson of the food pyramid. For example, parents can help their kids draw a body shape onto brown paper (a grocery bag is a good source). Next, they can search magazines for pictures of a variety of foods. As the family cuts out the pictures, they can discuss which foods are healthy and which are not. Next, kids can glue the healthy food pictures to the body shape, making a collage. When it's complete, families will have yet another image of what goes into a healthy diet.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.