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Kids & Food Choices

When my kids were toddlers and pre-schoolers, they used to drive me insane, "mommy can I have cereal, a granola bar, mac & cheese, chips?". So I finally devised a laminated chart with food categories. It actually served as a tool for the kids to learn food groups as well- but more importantly saved me a lot of arguments about food!

How to use the chart:

- My kids couldn't read, so I put pictures of foods that they could recognize into categories.

- At the top of each category I would write down how many servings they could eat per day (based on the recommendations for their age/gender by ADA, APA, & my plate)

(1) I explained to them that they could only have 2 items per day in the "junk" category, which included things like candy, fruit snacks (that were not actually fruit), fruit drinks, fried foods, syrups, chocolates, jelly, etc. (So if they had syrup on their pancakes & a peanut butter w/ jelly sandwich, then they couldn't have a juice box or fruit snacks). They had to have a certain number of waters (based off of recommendations by the pediatrician)

(2) They would be responsible to mark off the food that they ate on the chart after each meal with their dry erase marker.

(3) They had to have 1 in each category before they could have a second (until their category recommendation was met. So if they had cereal, they couldn't have a granola bar until they had a fruit, a veggie, a protein, a dairy, & a water.

As they became older it was a little easier & less hands on. One of my kids would come to me and ask me if they could have a granola bar, & I would ask if all their categories were filled. I'd often ask what veggie they had, and of course someone would tell me an apple or cup of peaches & we would have a little chat about food groups again. Who am I kidding, at least one of them still does that from time to time. BUT ... they don't need to use the chart any more. I still have it hanging on my fridge, and if we have any debates or arguments we pull it out to go over, or I have them use it for a couple of days to get back on track.

In all honesty, this is a great way for both kids AND adults to work towards getting in all their food groups. I hope this inspires or helps, good luck!!!

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