February 7, 2013
Using the United States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate with your children can make learning about healthy eating both educational and fun! Here are 5 tips to help bring My Plate to life for your child:
- Get creative and decorate plates. My Plate is a great way to help your children understand portion sizes. Because child size portions are inherently smaller than ours, they should eat from a child-sized plate. Turn this into a fun activity with your children by decorating your own plates! You can purchase child-sized plates and decorate with stickers or nontoxic/nonwashable markers to indicate the appropriate place for each food group.
- Eat the rainbow! Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure your child is getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. Encourage your child to pick out different colored produce and create the colors of the rainbow on your plate with the fruits and vegetables.
- Introduce a fruit or vegetable of the week. MyPlate focuses on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into each meal. Get your child interested by featuring a new fruit or vegetable each week! Look up recipes with your child that utilizes the feature of the week and try to see how many new ways you can eat it. And if your child doesn’t like it, don’t give up! Even if your child doesn’t like it the first time, studies have shown that it can take up to 15 times before they change their mind!
- Visit your local farmer’s market. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market to learn about what’s in season and try the freshest produce straight from the source. Learning about fruits and vegetables directly from farmers can be a great educational experience for the entire family. Plus, sampling the bountiful fruits and vegetables may encourage your child to try something new.
- Try some fun activities on www.choosemyplate.gov. The USDA has created a kid-friendly website featuring MyPlate, which contains numerous fun activities, videos and recipes to help your family learn about nutrition. There are also great daily tips, meal plans and other resources to help you raise healthy eaters. Don’t forget—daily physical activity is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as what we put in our bodies. On the website, you’ll also find recommendations on physical activities that will get your family moving!
Mary Saph TanakaContributor
Mary Saph Tanaka, MD, MS, developed her love for cooking at a young age, with fond memories of planting and cooking vegetables from the garden with her mother. She regularly utilizes locally grown ingredients and her knowledge of nutrition and herbs to prepare nutritious meals for family and friends. She is completing her pediatrics training at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital as part of the Community Health and Advocacy Training program. She developed the recipes for the recently released book “’Eat Your Vegetables’ and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters” written by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD (Healthy Learning, 2012).