The food pyramid that many parents grew up with is outdated and nutrition recommendations have evolved quite a bit over the past decade. With all these changes, how do we know what to feed our kids? We asked Rebecca Meyerson, a certified nutrition counselor who practices in Westchester County, for some simple guidelines.
The food pyramid is required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reinvent itself every five years to adjust to changes in nutrition. The most recent change occurred last year, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the food pyramid with My Plate.
The food pyramid in the 1990s indicated grains as the largest portion of our daily nutritional requirements, encouraging us to eat six to 11 servings per day. The grain group used to be composed of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.
In 2005, the FDA added an emphasis on physical activity as part of the food pyramid, encouraging children and adolescents to be physically active for 60 minutes every day or most days. This model continues to recommend grains as being the largest portion of one's diet.
In 2011, the USDA's My Plate replaced the food pyramid, illustrating what should be on your plate at dinner. This model proposes a plant-based diet. My Plate indicates that half your meal portion should consist of fruit and vegetables, while the other half should include protein sources, such as fish, beans, and small portions of lean meat, as well as whole grains. Whole grains, including multigrain pasta, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat couscous, have been suggested to replace refined grains because they provide more nutrients.
Dairy is now encouraged to be fat free or low fat, and non-dairy alternatives like organic soy are suggested. Serving sizes on previous food pyramids have been overstated, and the goal of My Plate is to eliminate oversized portions. My Plate also recommends drinking water instead of sugary drinks.
Rebecca Meyerson has a master's degree in nutrition, food science, and exercise science. She is a certified nutrition counselor through the American Association of Nutrition Consultants. Meyerson recently founded Simply Healthy Living in Westchester County, New York, with the mission to promote holistic wellness through a balanced lifestyle incorporating super foods, supplementation, and exercise. She counsels adults and children based on their physiological components of health, determined by their genetics, gender, and blood type. Meyerson works with her clients to set goals that are achievable through gradual lifestyle changes. To learn more about her programs, visit www.simplyhealthyliving.org.