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Pediatrics – Balanced Diet and Nutrition


The food that your child eats can directly affect his or her health.  As Americans are facing higher rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, it is more important than ever to make sure that you and your family are eating a well-balanced diet.  There are plenty of fad diet products on the market, and it can be difficult to determine what exactly a well-balanced diet is.  A well-balanced diet consists of the nutritional elements that your body needs to function properly and maintain a healthy weight.  The specific elements for a well-balanced diet may be different for everyone but are composed of the same basic food elements.

My Pyramid (www.mypyramid.gov) is a helpful food guide that you can use to develop your child’s nutrition plan.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture created My Pyramid after researching the rising obesity rates in America.  The My Pyramid food guide ensures that your child eats the proper nutrients and calories each day to maintain a healthy weight.  My Pyramid also contains exercise guidelines.

My Pyramid contains six food groups- grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, milk products, and meat and beans.  Your child should eat foods from each group daily.  My Pyramid provides portion size guidelines.  The exact portion size that your child uses depends on the number of calories your child’s body needs in one day.  Your doctor or a nutritionist can recommend how many calories your child needs to meet or maintain his or her weight goal.  The handy tools at the My Pyramid website can help you customize your child’s eating plan.

In addition to eating guidelines, My Pyramid provides recommendations for exercise.  My Pyramid suggests that adults participate in physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day on most days of the week.  My Pyramid suggests 60 minutes of physical activity per day to prevent weight gain.  To sustain a weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity each day may be necessary.  Your doctor can make specific recommendations depending on your child’s health status.

My Pyramid is a great place to start for developing your well-balanced nutrition plan.  You should always use your doctor as a resource for guidelines specific to your child.  Your doctor can make recommendations that are specific to controlling certain medical conditions.  For example, there are food guidelines for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  A female’s nutritional needs may change when she is pregnant or aging.  Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist for specific help with daily meal planning and recipe recommendations.

It is important to teach your children and family members about healthy eating.  Make sure that everyone in your family is getting enough daily exercise.  By doing so, you may reduce the risk of obesity and serious health concerns.