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The Food Guide Pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid is one way for people to understand how to eat healthy. A rainbow of colored, vertical stripes represents the five food groups plus fats and oils. Here's what the colors stand for:

  • Orange: grains
  • Green: vegetables
  • Red: fruits
  • Yellow: fats and oils
  • Blue: milk and dairy products
  • Purple: meat, beans, fish and nuts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the pyramid in 2005 because they wanted to do a better job of telling Americans how to be healthy. The agency later released a special version for kids. Notice the girl climbing the staircase up the side of the pyramid? That's a way of showing kids how important it is to exercise and be active every day. In other words, play a lot! The steps are also a way of saying that you can make changes little by little to be healthier. One step at a time, get it?

The Pyramid Speaks

Let's look at some of the other messages this new symbol is trying to send:

Eat a variety of foods. A balanced diet is one that includes all the food groups. In other words, have foods from every color, every day.

Eat less of some foods and more of others. You can see that the bands for meat and protein (purple) and oils (yellow) are skinnier than the others. That's because you need less of those kinds of foods than you do of fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy foods.

You also can see the bands start out wider and get thinner as they approach the top. That's designed to show you that not all foods are created equal, even within a healthy food group like fruit. For instance, apple pie would be in that thin part of the fruit band because it has a lot of added sugar and fat. A whole apple would be down in the wide part because you can eat more of those within a healthy diet.

Make it personal. Through the USDA's MyPyramid website, people can get personalized recommendations about the mix of foods they need to eat and how much they should be eating. There is a kids' version of the website available too.

How Much Do I Need to Eat?

Everyone wants to know how much they should eat to stay healthy. It's a tricky question, though. It depends on your age, whether you're a girl or a boy and how active you are. Kids who are more active burn more calories, so they need more calories. But we can give you some estimates for how much you need of each food group.

Grains

Grains are measured out in ounce equivalents, which are just another way of showing a serving size. Here are ounce equivalents for common grain foods. An ounce equivalent equals:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • ½ cup of cooked cereal, like oatmeal
  • ½ cup of rice or pasta
  • 1 cup of cold cereal
  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 4–5 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 5 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 6 ounce equivalents each day.

And one last thing about grains: Try make at least half of your grain servings whole grains, such as 100% whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal.

Vegetables

Of course, you need your vegetables, especially those dark green and orange ones. But how much is enough? Vegetable servings are measured in cups.

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 1½ cups of veggies each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 2 cups of veggies each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 2½ cups of veggies each day.

Fruits

Sweet, juicy fruit is definitely part of a healthy diet. Here's how much you need:

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 1–1½ cups of fruit each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-olds need 1½ cups of fruit each day.

Milk and Other Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium builds strong bones to last a lifetime, so you need these foods in your diet.

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 2 cups of milk (or another calcium-rich food) each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-olds need 3 cups of milk (or another calcium-rich food) each day.

If you want something other than milk, you can substitute yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified orange juice — just to name a few.

Meats, Beans, Fish, and Nuts

These foods contain iron and lots of other important nutrients. Like grains, these foods are measured in ounce equivalents. An ounce equivalent of this group would be:

  • 1 ounce of meat, poultry, or fish
  • ¼ cup cooked dry beans
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • ½ ounce (about a small handful) of nuts or seeds
  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 3–4 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-olds need 5 ounce equivalents each day.

We know that's a lot to swallow. The good news is that your mom, dad, and the other grown-ups in your life will help you eat what you need to stay healthy. There's more good news — you don't have to become a perfect eater overnight. Just remember those stairs climbing up the side of the new pyramid and take it one step at a time.

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23 Comments

latest videos

F1113502877640

Yummiest Food Group?

  • The milk group cuz it includes ice cream!
  • I love my fruits and veggies.
  • Pasta from the grains group - yum yum!
  • Meat - nothing beats a good burger.

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Dear Dish-It in the forums

Alois_Trancy_
Alois_Trancy_ posted in Friends:
"Rameza" wrote:My best friend just keeps back stabbing me.well to speak the truth we have been BFF's since 2nd Grade but when we reached into 5th grade she would talk all of these lies on me,once we had this big argument that we didn't speak to each other for 1 whole month.we forgived each other but now this group of girls would pick on me and #### ##### things about me behind my back.Now they treat me so nice and make all these jokes with me but at the end of the day it's the same routine over and over again.My mom tells me that their just jealous but it's making me drop back in my school work  now as usual I would probably say "kill them" but since this is correct grammar and punctuation I will take this seriously. Report them to the principal. Tell them how you feel. If it gets worse contact the police ( I've had to do this )
reply about 16 hours
jordand08
jordand08 posted in Friends:
When your friend starts to talk about you, and stabs you in the back. then maybe it's time to move on. In friendships, there will always be times when your friend hurt your feelings, but if it's being repeated, then maybe it's time to let go. Because some things aren't worth it.
reply about 16 hours
Alex227
Alex227 posted in Friends:
You should if you really want to, but I don't think it should matter the amount of knowledge you and your friends have, because friendship is merely friendship! :) Plus, when you tell them, it may come across as bragging and they would perceive you as a show-off. Hope this helps!
reply about 19 hours
hugebear
hugebear posted in Friends:
Congratulations on being gifted and getting all the opportunties what your getting :) You knows your friends better than any of us and how does you think they will react if you tell them?  Thinks about if one of your friends told you and how you would feel.  Be proud and enjoy your learning and you will meet other gifted people too in your classes and ask them their experiences too of how/if they told friends. If it was me then I probably wouldnt but thats just me personality. I wouldnt ever get in the gifted group anyway so I doesnt really have to think about this :)
reply 1 day
__dischic3__
__dischic3__ posted in Style:
today I got my hair down...chillin'
reply 1 day

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