Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Food Pyramid for toddlers (approx. 2-3) and a diet breakdown for children (approx. 4-8)

This is a pyramid designed to help you be sure your child is getting proper amounts of the daily food groups. It's just a guide. If you're concerned about your child's weight or health, you should consult with your child's pediatrician. I am not a health care professional and this pyramid is based on the daily 1,000 intake of a two year old who gets 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Look for the *'s at the bottom of the page for my note about the consumption of oils for a 2-3 year old, and continue reading for the diet breakdown for your 4 to 8 year old!

One day when my daughter became noticeably more interested in foods and was almost two, I wondered to myself what I could do to ensure that she would get proper amounts of each of the daily food groups each day, and that's when I created this guide. We have this on our refrigerator and now there's no question! Feel free to print out the pyramid and/or guide and attach it to your fridge too!

I have not yet made a pyramid for the 4-8 age range, but I will over the next couple of days! I'll break it down for you since I haven't yet! You really just need to add a little more to each of the toddler food groups. I'll give you some examples for each group below. (All of this information was gathered from or checked by the USDA website.)

Fruits: 1 to 1&1/2 cups.

One banana = 1 cup. One medium mango = 1 cup. One cup of strawberries = 1 cup. You get the picture? So in one day your 4 to 8 year old could have about 1 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup grapes, and a half of a banana.

Vegetables: 1&1/2 cups.
One large baked sweet potato = 1 cup. One cup of raw baby spinach = 1/2 cup (taking into consideration the air/space in your cup). One half cup cooked kidney beans = 1/2 cup. So in one day your 4 to 8 year old could have a salad made of 1 cup romaine lettuce, with 1/2 cup shredded carrots and 1/2 cup raw mushrooms.

Or throughout the day he could have 1/2 cup whole carrots, 1/2 cup tomato juice (V8 is our favorite) and 1/2 cup raw cauliflower.

Milk or Dairy: 2&1/2 cups or 20 oz.
8 oz. of milk = 1 cup. 1/3 cup shredded cheese = 1 cup. 1/2 cup frozen yogurt made with milk or soymilk = 1/2 cup. So in one day your 4 to 8 year old could have 1 cup of milk, 1/3 cup shredded cheese (possibly on top of that salad?),  and 1/2 cup of his favorite yogurt.

Meats (protein): 4 oz.

Six thin slices of ham = 2 oz. One small cooked chicken breast = 3 oz. Approx. 25 almonds = 2 oz. 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans= 2 oz. One small filet of salmon = approx. 3 oz.  One egg = 1 oz. Two tablespoons of peanut butter = 1 oz. So in one day your 4 to 8 year old could have 3 thin slices of ham, 1/2 cooked chicken breast, 10 almonds, and 1/4 cup cooked kidney beans.

Grains: 5 oz.
1/2 cup oatmeal = 1 oz. One cup whole wheat cereal = 1 oz. Three cups of popcorn = 1 oz. One slice of whole wheat bread = 1 oz. One cup white rice = 2 oz. One 8" tortilla = 2 oz. Five whole wheat crackers = 1 oz. So in one day your 4 to 8 year old could have 1 cup of whole wheat cereal, one tortilla, one kaiser roll and 1/4 pasta.

Fats and sweets: Limit your intake of fats and sweets. They are "empty" calories and often times have little to no nutritional value. Try making your own versions of sweet treats in the form of trail mixes, carrot cookies, sweet potato chips, etc.

*Oils**The information I found on the USDA website didn't actually include a sweets and fats portion of it's "pyramid", but instead an "oils" portion. Oils aren't a food group but do provide essential nutrients. A child 4 to 8 years of age should have about 4 teaspoons of oil daily. A toddler 2 to 3 years of age should have about 3 teaspoons. Most of us get enough oils via fish, nuts, cooking oil and salad dressings. You can also get them from avocados, olives, butter, milk fat, pork fat, etc.*

As promised, here is the Food Pyramid for Children, ages 4-8!

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