Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate is a visual guide that helps kids understand nutrition and encourages them to eat well and stay active. At a glance, this graphic shows examples of the best foods to inspire healthy meal and snack choices, and highlights physical activity as part of staying healthy.
Children’s Healthy Plate_Jan2016
Establish a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a variety of foods makes our meals fun and delicious. It’s also key to a healthy, balanced diet, as each food contains a unique blend of nutrients — macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The Healthy Kids Plate provides a blueprint to help us make the best dietary choices.
Instead of sharing half of our colorful veggies and fruits (and opting for them as snacks), split the other half into whole grains and healthy protein:
The more vegetables—the more varieties—the better.
Potatoes and french fries don’t count as vegetables because they have a negative effect on blood sugar.
More about vegetables >
Eat more fruits of various colors.
Choose whole or sliced fruit (instead of juice; limit juice to one small glass per day).
More about fruit >
Choose whole grains or foods made from least processed whole grains. The less processed grains are, the better.
Whole grains—whole grains, brown rice, quinoa, and foods made from them, such as whole-grain pasta and 100% whole-grain bread—are better for blood sugar and lower than white rice, bread, pizza crust, pasta, and other refined foods The effects of insulin are milder than grains.
More about whole grains >
Choose beans and peas, nuts, seeds and other plant-based proteins, as well as fish, eggs and poultry.
Limit red meats (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meats (bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, sausages).
More about healthy protein >
It’s also important to remember that fat is an essential part of our diet, and the most important thing is the type of fat we eat. We should regularly choose foods that contain healthy unsaturated fats (such as fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy vegetable oils), limit foods high in saturated fats (especially red meat), and avoid unhealthy trans fats (from partially hydrogenated oils) :
Use healthy oils from plants such as extra virgin olive oil, canola, corn, sunflower and peanut oils in cooking, salads and vegetables, and at the table.
Limit occasional use of butter.
More about healthy oils and healthy fats >
Compared to other foods on our plates, dairy products are in less demand:
Choose plain milk, plain yogurt, small amounts of cheese, and other unsweetened dairy products.
Milk and other dairy products are convenient sources of calcium and vitamin D, but the optimal intake of dairy products has not been established and research is still developing. For children who drink little or no milk, ask your doctor about possible calcium and vitamin D supplements.
More about dairy >
Water should be the beverage of choice at every meal and snack when we are active:
Water is the best choice for quenching thirst. It’s also sugar-free and as easy to find as the nearest faucet.
Limit juices that contain as much sugar as soda to one small glass per day, and avoid sugary beverages such as sodas, juice drinks, and sports drinks, which provide a lot of calories and few other nutrients. Over time, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other problems.
More about water and healthy drink choices >
Finally, incorporating physical activity into our day by staying active, like choosing the right foods, is part of the secret to staying healthy:
Replace inactive “sit time” with “fitness time.”
Children and teens should get at least an hour of physical activity a day, and they don’t need fancy equipment or gyms. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing unstructured activities for children, such as tug of war or playing with playground equipment.
More about staying active >
Overall, the main message is to focus on nutritional quality.
The type of carbohydrates in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrates in the diet, because certain carbohydrate sources—such as vegetables (with the exception of potatoes), fruits, whole grains, and legumes—are healthier than foods like sugar, potatoes, etc. Made from flour.
Kids Healthy Plate is free of sugary drinks, candy and other junk food. These are not everyday foods and should be eaten very rarely, if at all.
The Children’s Healthy Plate encourages the use of healthy oils in place of other types of fats.
About Children’s Healthy Plates
The Healthy Kids Plate was developed by Harvard nutritionist T.H. The Chan School of Public Health has improved the visual guidance provided by USDA’s MyPlate icon based on the best available science. The Kids Plate reflects the same important message as the Healthy Eating Plate, emphasizing nutritional quality, but designed to teach kids about healthy eating habits.
Nutritional information for children
A healthy diet in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and the prevention of various health conditions. 1,2 The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon recommends healthy eating patterns for those 2 years and older, including 2:
Various fruits and vegetables.
Fat-free and low-fat dairy products.
Various protein foods.
The guidelines also recommend that individuals limit calories from solid fats (a major source of saturated and trans fats) and added sugars, and reduce sodium intake. 2 Unfortunately, most children and adolescents do not follow the recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. twenty four
The benefits of healthy eating
Eating a healthy diet can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, obtain essential nutrients, and reduce the risk of developing health problems, such as 1,2
Type 2 diabetes.
Tooth decay (dental caries).
Healthy Eating Tips
USDA provided external imagery from ChooseMyPlate.gov
Nutrition and Academic Performance
The school is in a unique position to provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice healthy eating habits. 15
A healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood. 16-18
Adequate hydration also improves cognitive function in children and adolescents, which is important for learning. 19-23
Eating behavior of young people
Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among children and adolescents declined between 2001 and 2010, but still accounted for 10 percent of total caloric intake. 10
From 2003 to 2010, both total and whole fruit consumption by children and adolescents increased. However, most teens still do not meet the fruit and vegetable recommendations. 11,12
Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats make up 40% of daily calories in children and teens ages 2 to 18—affecting the overall quality of their diets. About half of those empty calories came from six sources: soda, juice drinks, dairy desserts, cereal desserts, pizza, and whole milk. 4 Most adolescents do not consume the recommended total amount of water. 13 Eating habits are established in early childhood. Choosing a plant-based diet can give your child and your entire family the opportunity to learn to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods.
A mother’s breast milk best meets the nutritional needs of the baby, which helps boost immunity. If breastfeeding is not possible, commercial infant soy milk formula (not to be confused with soy or other plant-based milks) can be used.
During the first six months of life, babies do not need any food other than breast milk or formula. You should continue to receive breast milk or formula for at least the first 12 months. The longer your baby drinks breast milk, the better. Babies do not have to drink milk.
Around 6 months of age, it’s time to introduce solid foods into your baby’s diet. Introduce iron-fortified infant cereals mixed with some breast milk or soy milk, as these are the least likely to cause allergies.
At 6 to 8 months of age, you can start introducing other plant foods:
Vegetables, including potatoes, green beans, carrots, and peas, are good choices. They should be cooked and mashed thoroughly.
Fruits like mashed bananas, avocados, peaches, or applesauce.
By 8 months, some babies can eat biscuits, bread, and dry cereal, as well as high-protein foods like cooked and mashed tofu or beans.
children and adolescents
Children who grow up on a healthy vegan diet have a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and other diseases. Teens who grow up on a plant-based diet often find it easy to maintain a healthy weight. They also had fewer acne, allergies and gastrointestinal problems than their animal-eating peers.
American children often have fatty streaks in their arteries before they graduate from high school. Children who eat plant-based foods limit foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.
When it comes to milk, studies show that dairy products have little to no benefit for bones. A review published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005 showed that drinking milk did not improve bone integrity in children. Another study followed diet, physical activity and stress fractures in adolescent girls for seven years and concluded that dairy and calcium did not prevent stress fractures in adolescent girls.
Children’s Nutrition Activities
Get smart with the Nutrition Rainbow, learn more about nutrition for kids and sign the pledge! Help build healthy habits by inviting your kids, nieces, nephews and their friends to try one of these activities and learn about healthy foods!