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.
You may be looking for help steering through the numerous food choices.
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 Kids' Place. It shows the image of a dinner plate divided into colored sections:
An important feature of MyPlate Kids' 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:
MyPlate Kids' 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 Kids' Place. The USDA's main messages include:
Pair MyPlate Kids' 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.
Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada
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 July 31, 2017.
MyPlate Kids' Place. US Department of Agriculture Choose My Plate website. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids. Updated July 22, 2015. Accessed July 31, 2017.
SuperTracker. SuperTracker—US Department of Agriculture website. Available at: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx. Accessed July 31, 2017.
Last reviewed July 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 10/15/2013