Learning about Food Groups

Avoid refined grains and opt for whole grains instead

A food group refers to the method of classifying different foods that we consume in our daily lives, based on the nutritional properties of these types of foods and their position in the hierarchy of nutrition. Eating certain proportions of food from various groups is recommended by experts to achieve a healthy lifestyle through diet.

All the food we eat can be divided into five groups. We will look at four of those five food groups. By consuming a healthy diet you eat the right balance between these groups.

It is not only important for adults to get the proper nutrition. It is vital that our children receive proper nutrients in their diets as well. Teaching them to eat properly now will help them retain good health when they are adults. It will also help them to avoid many of the chronic diseases that are prevalent in our society today. The five basic food groups for kids was established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a means of educating parents and children about good nutrition which includes the following:

Grains

Foods in this group include whole grain breads, rice, pasta and cereals. They are an excellent source of energy as well as the most important source for a variety of nutrients in the diet. These foods are the fuel for the body. Starchy foods should be consumed at every meal. But it is important to eat the right ones. Avoid refined starches such as white breads and rice. Focus more on whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, etc. Limit your consumption of white potatoes. While they are delicious and are rich in nutrition, sweet potatoes provide more nutrients.

Vegetables

Every vegetable is essential, however when it comes to children’s nutrition orange and green varieties are highly suggested. A good rule of thumb is that the more colorful the vegetable, the more nutrients it provides. It is recommended that kids consume at least 2.5 cups per day.

Fruit

A variety of fruits is as essential as consuming vegetables. When possible, consuming fresh fruit is the most beneficial. Consume whole fruits over bottled juices as they contain added ingredients and sugars that should be avoided. Read nutrition labels! Moderately, 100% fruit juice is acceptable. The suggestion is 1.5 cups for each day of whole fruits should be consumed.

Protein

When it comes to protein, children should eat five servings a day. One serving equals one ounce of nuts, fish, an egg, two ounces of beans or one tablespoon of peanut butter. These foods are excellent sources of high-quality protein that is essential for growth and repair of the body. They are also good sources of several vitamins and minerals. About 15% of the calories we consume each day should come from protein. Plant-based protein is more desireable and easier for the body to digest. If you choose animal protein, opt for grass-fed, free-roaming types. Remember, the quality of the meat depends on the quality of the animal from which it came.

Children need to eat a variety of different foods to get the nutrients needed for their health. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that each meal contains at least three of the food groups. Knowing the food groups is a good way to make sure you make the most of every meal or snack.

As a mostly vegan eater, I do not consume dairy products. While dairy does appear on the USDA food recommendation, however, there are plenty of natural plant-based foods that contain the calcium and protein that we need for good health. I do occasionally consume oily fish for the important omega 3 fatty acids. Wild caught fish is best and will provide the most omega 3s.

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