Kids develop peculiar eating habits. You've heard of the
purity rule: potatoes and carrots must never be touched,
or they are 'contaminated'. Or the idea that any food is
fine as long as it is peanut butter. I have even heard
of youngsters who won't eat vegetables except in Chinese
restaurants. But that has not stopped the experts at the
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) from coming up with
a new set of guidelines, published in the form of a
pint-sized food pyramid, to help parents an teachers
encourage kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
base of the pyramid (for kids 2 to 6 years old) are
foods that contain mainly of grains with the
recommendation of 6 servings per day. Above the base are
veggies (3 servings per day) and fruit (2 servings).
Higher up the pyramid are milk and meat (2 servings per
day). At the top of the pyramid are carbonated drinks
and sweets which are the children's favorite, but which
are to be avoided or to be served only sparingly.
Now before you say, "Oh, that will never work !"
consider the following. Two studies out in the past
month show just how important it is to adopt good eating
habits early in life. One study found that children who
gain a lot of weight as youngsters develop more risk
factors for heart disease as adults. The other study
found that, a a group, black and Hispanic children eat
significantly more fat than their white counterparts,
which may help explain why heart disease is more
prevalent among minority groups. Both findings show that
the effort to instill healthy eating habits in your
children is likely to pay of in the long run.
Overall, the new food pyramid for children is a
winner. it is clear, engaging and has practical tips on
everything from introducing your child to new foods (by
making a game of choosing new fruits for the family) to
helping 2- and 3-year-olds avoid choking (by cutting hot
dogs lengthwise into thin strips). Another smart feature
is the food pyramid's emphasis on physical activity.
Vigorous play not only helps kids grow strong but also
can make them hungry enough to try a wider variety of
According to a survey data, 37% of children
aged 3 to 5 years drink carbonated beverages. The mere
fact of drinking soda is not a problem; it is how much a
child drinks that can get him or her into trouble. It is
determined that children who drink soda consume about
300ml a day, or 40 percent of their daily fluid intake.
Most of that soda, of course, contains few if any
nutrients and may displace healthier foods.
What kids like most about soft drinks is the fizz,
says Dr Lillian Beard. "I encourage the parents in my
practice to take a little sparkling water and mix it in
with their children's fruit juice to make a healthier
'soda'. Make sure to use 100% fruit juice and sparkling
water that does not have any added sodium or sugar."
Even at that, you don't want too much fruit juice to
displace other foods in your child's diet. Otherwise, he
or she will miss out much on fiber, vitamins and other
nutrients in whole fruit, and calcium from milk, yogurt
and other dairy products. One final caution: the USDA's
food guide does not apply to toddlers under the age of
2, who have their own very specific nutritional needs.
Soon enough, though, they will be lobbying you for
something from the chip group and something from the