MyPyramid logo Any parent who has tried to navigate a well-stocked grocery store with a hungry child in tow knows it is a challenge. Weaving through endless aisles of candy, frozen pizza, chips, soda, and sugary cereals without at least one incident of pleading or bargaining is considered a major accomplishment.

But on a daily basis, where is the proper guidance to steer through the numerous food choices?

Since 1894, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been providing Americans with dietary guidelines. In general, they have focused on eating from specified food groups and emphasized moderation, proper proportions, and variety. An updated version of the USDA's guidelines for children is called MyPlate Kid's Place. It shows the image of a dinner plate divided into colored sections:

Color Food Group
Orange Grains
Green Vegetables
Red Fruits
Blue Low fat or fat-free dairy
Purple Protein foods

An important feature of MyPlate Kid's Place is that each section is a particular size. This is to highlight the proportions that adults and children should aim for when planning their meals, for example:

  • Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables
  • About a quarter of the plate should be grains, especially whole grains
  • The rest should be protein