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Plates Are the New Pyramids

Teach your child healthy eating habits with ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Currently in the United States, one in three children is obese or is at-risk of becoming obese; it is important for parents to help their children learn healthy eating habits.

One way to do this is by finding resources that will educate you and your child on how to eat healthy. The Internet contains many useful websites that can help your family become more informed about healthy eating.

Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed its visual representation of the five food groups from the well-known pyramid design to a place-setting design. The new visual is designed to remind Americans to practice healthy eating habits. I recommend visiting the new website www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, formerly www.MyPyramid.gov, with your child and exploring the resources available on this site.

One of the resources you may want to check out is the chart located under each food group heading that tells you how much a person should eat from that group daily based on age, sex and level of activity.

The new site also provides examples of foods from each food group and what they are equivalent to in ounces or cups so that you can be sure you and your child are getting the recommended daily amount.

Printable materials such as coloring pages, sample menus, recipes, easy-to-follow tips for healthy eating and a daily food plan tailored specifically for each individual person are also available on the new site.

Much of the information found on the former website is still available on the new site, but some of the resources have been refined to meet the new guidelines.

The new site is expected to be completed by fall 2011, and it will include many new interactive tools. I am hoping that it will include interactive games for children that will help them learn about the five food groups.

In the meantime, I strongly recommend the Food Blast Off game located under the Kids section of ChooseMyPlate.gov. Though it was created based on the food guide pyramid, I believe this game is a fun way to familiarize your child with the five food groups. My third-grade students really enjoyed the game when we played it together in class.

If you're looking for additional interactive games that will help your child learn about the food groups, then I suggest you visit www.sheppardsoftware.com. Click on Games under the Nutrition for Kids section. There are several games from which to choose that will help your child identify foods from each food group.

Remember, it's just as important to set a good example for your child as it is to inform him or her about healthy eating, so make sure you model a healthy lifestyle for your child by eating foods from each food group, eating foods from the fats/oils groups sparingly, exercising regularly and getting a good night's sleep.

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