With the increased prevalence of childhood obesity and diabetes, it is becoming even more important to teach children the principles of healthy eating. One of the best ways to do this is to teach the food pyramid, a simple visual representation of a balanced diet. The United States Department of Agriculture has resources to assist in teaching children the food pyramid, and there are also a number of other ways to help teach kids about healthy eating.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Play kitchen with plastic foods
- Paper and pencil
Help young children learn to identify which food group any given type of food is in. The main food groups in the food pyramid are grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat/protein, and oils.
Pick one food group and brainstorm with your child what foods are in that group. For example, ask your child to list as many fruits as he can. You can also explain what makes a fruit unique from a vegetable.
When you or your child are eating a meal or snack, look at the foods and decide what categories they belong in.
Get a play kitchen with a variety of types of plastic foods. Have a small basket for each type of food, and help your child sort all the foods into the proper baskets.
Teaching Food Groups to Preschoolers
Visit the mypyramid.gov/kids website and print out one of the food pyramid posters that is age-appropriate for your child.
Explain to your child that his body needs different amounts of each type of food every day. Use the food pyramid poster as a visual aid, looking at the size of each slice of the pyramid.
Help your child to catalogue the food he eats for a whole day. At the end of the day, total the foods in each group and check to see how close he is to the recommended amounts.
Play the MyPyramid Blast Off computer game (http://www.mypyramid.gov/kids/kids_game.html). This helps children to plan balanced meals for the day that fill the categories in the food pyramid without having too many calories.
Stress the importance of physical activity, and help your child to think of fun ways to be active for at least 60 minutes on most days.
Teaching the Food Pyramid
Tips and warnings
- Children are much more likely to follow the food pyramid if their role models, including their parents, are eating healthy and balanced diets that follow the food pyramid as well.
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