Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Planning Healthy Meals Just Got Easy

by Kara Borcherding, RD

August 01, 2011

Most parents care about healthy eating for their children, but it can be difficult to translate food guidelines about ounces, tablespoons and cups into an actual sack lunch for school or a family meal around the dinner table. Fortunately, that just got easier with the Center for Disease Control’s new “MyPlate,” which has replaced the government health organization’s “MyPyramid.”

‘The concepts between the MyPyramid and MyPlate are essentially the same,” explained Kara Borcherding, R.D., a pediatric dietitian at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent. “But MyPlate does a better job of helping parents – and kids – visualize what they need to be eating at every meal. It’s much more user-friendly and easy to understand.”

In fact, Borcherding uses MyPlate, along with Project 18, to help her young patients adopt healthier eating habits. And as a mom herself, Borcherding has a number of creative ideas for those picky eaters at your table.

Fruits and Vegetables

Borcherding advises getting kids involved in the selection. “Take them to the grocery or farmer’s market with you and let them pick out what they want for the week.” She also suggests incorporating a “U-Pick Day,” where family members rotate selecting the fruit or vegetable selection for the day.

Dairy

Getting dairy in your kids is easy—if they like milk. But if not, you need to get creative about other ways to give your child the calcium intake they need. “Soy alternatives, low-fat cheeses and yogurts, cereals and calcium-fortified orange juice are great ways to meet the daily dairy and calcium needs,” Borcherding said.

Proteins

Borcherding said that while kids need daily servings of protein, it’s a lot less than most people think. She tells parents not to worry if their children don’t like meat. They end up getting protein from vegetables, dairy and even starchy foods, which help ensure they meet their daily requirements.

Grains

Of all the MyPlate portions, Borcherding said grains can be the most difficult for parents. But, they play an important role: supplying the body with the daily fiber it needs to aid the digestive process.