As a parent, you want your child to eat a healthy diet—and you can find plenty of resources targeted for grownups to read. Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate by Harvard, however, provides an eye-catching graphic that can grab the attention of the targeted audience: the kids themselves. Then, to the left, parents can click on topics to gain more information about healthy eating patterns for the entire family, including adults.
In the graphic, children can recognize the pair of tennis shoes in the bottom left-hand corner as a sign to get out and play physical games. To the right, they see a reminder to drink enough water. In the center—the plate itself—they will see fruits and vegetables taking up about half of the plate with whole grains and healthy protein playing key roles—with sprinkles of healthy oil.
Here’s an overview of key components.
Fruits and Vegetables
These play an important part in your child’s healthy diet, and so it makes sense to include more in meals: in soups, stews, salads, stir-fries and more. Because no single type can provide all the necessary nutrients, it’s important to include a variety of them in assorted colors. Whenever possible, choose at least one serving from each of these categories: dark leafy green veggies; red fruits and vegetables; orange fruit and vegetables; citrus fruits; and beans/peas. Skip or
Chop up colorful fruits and put them in a glass bowl in the fridge. That way, when your child craves something sweet, the fruit is right at hand. Browse produce aisles with your children and select something new.
Here’s a thorough list of fruits and vegetables to consider, divided by seasonality.
Whole grain kernels have three components. The first is bran, which is the outer layer that’s chock-full of vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients. They also contain natural compounds called phytochemicals that help to prevent disease.
The germ, meanwhile, is at the heart of the seed. It also contains vitamins, phytochemicals, and more while being a reliable source of healthy fats. Finally, there’s the endosperm. This inner layer contains protein as well as carbohydrates along with some vitamins and minerals.
To help, here’s a list of whole grains to incorporate into your meals.
Protein and Healthy Oils
Protein is found in people’s skin, hair, muscle, bone, and more. There are, in fact, 10,000 proteins or more in your body that help important chemical reactions to take place. According to the National Academy of Medicine, 10 to 35 percent of caloric intake should consist of protein. Here’s a list of good protein sources, including milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs,
seafood, pork, poultry, lean beef, and more.
Research shows that “good” fats are necessary for a healthy diet, and these include healthy oils like vegetable oils canola, corn, olive, soy, and sunflower, along with seeds, nuts, and fish.
What’s Not Included in the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate
What should be eaten rarely, if ever: soft drinks, sweets, and other “junk” foods. The goal should be to limit or stay away from sugary foods like cereals and sodas. Your children should also eat candy and chocolate in moderation.