Healthy Diets Overview | OSF HealthCare (2024)

Eating well is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It's something that should be taught to children at a young age. These are some general guidelines for helping your child eat healthy. It’s important to discuss your child’s diet and nutrition needs with your child’s healthcare provider before making any dietary changes:

  • Provide 3 meals a day, with healthy snacks in-between.

  • Increase fiber in your child’s diet.

  • Decrease the use of salt and salty foods.

  • Encourage your child to drinkwater. Try to stay away from drinks and juices that are high in sugar.

  • Don’tput your childon a low-fat diet without talking to your child’s healthcare provider. Children under the age of 2 need fats in their diet to help with the growth of their nervous system.

  • Serve balanced meals.

  • Try to bake, grill, roast, or broil instead of frying.

  • Decrease your child’s added sugar intake.

  • Offer fruit or vegetables for a snack.

  • Decrease your use of butter and heavy sauces and gravies.

  • Serve more lean meat, chicken, fish, and beans for protein.

Making healthy food choices

The MyPlate icon is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. MyPlate can help you and your child eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.

The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the following food plates to guide parents in selecting foods for children 1 year and older.

Healthy Diets Overview | OSF HealthCare (1)

The MyPlate icon is divided intofive food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:

  • Grains. Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Aim for mostly whole-grains.

  • Vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.

  • Fruits. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants should not have any juice before 12 months of age without a healthcare provider's approval. They also recommend children ages 1 to 6 have no more than 4 to 6 ounces of juice per day. For children ages 7 to 18, limit juice to 8 ounces (1 cup) of juice per day.

  • Dairy. Milk products and many foods made from milk, like yogurt and cheese, are considered part of this food group. Choose fat-free or low-fat products for children ages 2 years and older, as well as those that are high in calcium. Offer whole-fat milk and yogurt to children 12 months to 2 years of age. Cow's milk is not recommended for children under 12 months of age as a replacement for human milk or infant formula.

  • Protein. Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine. Choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.

Fats are not a food group but essential to healthy growth and development. Healthy fats, like nut and other plant oils, have vital nutrients and should be included in the diet. Stay away from others, like trans fats.

Exercise and daily physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan.

Nutrition and activity tips

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Try to control when and where food is eaten by your child. Provide consistent daily meals and snacks with social interaction. Demonstrate healthy eating behaviors while reducing distractions, such as TV and tablets.

  • Involve your child in selecting and preparing foods. Teach your child to make healthy choices by letting them choose foods based on the nutritional value.

  • Select meals and snacks with a variety of nutritious foods. Explore different foods and flavors from other cultures and cuisines.

  • Keep in mind: Most Americans need to cut the number of calories they consume. When it comes to weight control, calories do count. Controlling portion sizes and limiting highly processed foods helps manage calorie intake and increase nutrients.

  • Try to serve recommended serving sizes for each child.

  • Make an effort to limit a child’s screen use to no more than 1 hour daily. Instead encourage activities that call for more movement.

  • Promote physical activity. Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days for good health and fitness and healthy weight during growth.

  • Encourage your child to drink fluid regularly during physical activity. They should also drink several glasses of water or other low- or no-sugar-added fluid after the physical activity is done to prevent dehydration.

To find more information about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 and to determine the appropriate dietary recommendations for your child’s age, sex, and physical activity level, visit and 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. Note that the MyPlate plan is designed for people over age 1 who don't have chronic health conditions.

Always talk with your child’s healthcare provider regarding healthy diet and exercise requirements.

Online Medical Reviewer:Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer:Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer:Rita Sather RN

Date Last Reviewed:1/1/2024

© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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Healthy Diets Overview | OSF HealthCare (2024)


What is a healthy diet summary? ›

A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet.

What is a healthy diet answer? ›

A balanced diet contains all of the essential elements that the human body needs. Carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, proteins, fiber, and water are all essential components in a well-balanced diet. A nutritious, well-balanced diet lowers the risk of disease and enhances general health.

What is a healthy diet perspective? ›

Evidence shows the health benefits of a diet high in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts, and low in salt, free sugars and fats, particularly saturated and trans fats. A healthy diet starts early in life with adequate breastfeeding.

Why is a healthy diet important essay? ›

It helps us in various spheres of life. Healthy food does not only impact our physical health but mental health too. When we intake healthy fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients, we reduce the chances of diseases. For instance, green vegetables help us to maintain strength and vigor.

What are the 3 basic concepts to a healthy diet? ›

A healthy diet has three main areas of concern: food choices, hydration and portion control.

What are 5 benefits of healthy eating? ›

5 Benefits of Eating Healthy
  • Weight Loss. One of the main reasons people eat a healthy diet is to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight. ...
  • Heart Health. ...
  • Strong bones and teeth. ...
  • Better mood and energy levels. ...
  • Improved memory and brain health.

What is the healthiest food to eat? ›

Top 10 Foods for Health
  1. Water. Drink 8 to 12 cups of water daily.
  2. Dark green vegetables. Eat dark green vegetables at least three to four times a week. ...
  3. Whole grains. Eat whole grains sat least two or three times daily. ...
  4. Beans and lentils. Try to eat a bean-based meal at least once a week. ...
  5. Fish. ...
  6. Berries. ...
  7. Winter squash. ...
  8. Soy.

What is food in 100 words? ›

Essay on Food in 100 Words

Food is a necessary nourishment for every living being to survive. Every living creature needs food in addition to clothing and shelter in order to exist. It provides us with energy and makes our bodies capable of functioning properly.

What is nutrition in 200 words? ›

Nutrition is the process of taking in food and converting it into energy and other vital nutrients required for life. In the process of nutrition, organisms utilize nutrients. The main nutrients are carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and roughage.

What is a topic sentence for healthy food? ›

Answer: For example, if your paper is on healthy food leading to a longer life, your topic sentence would be: Eating healthy food is the way to a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is connected to eating healthy food. Eating healthy food is the key to a healthy lifestyle.

How do you keep a healthy diet paragraph? ›

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods helps to keep you in good health and protects you against chronic disease. Eating a well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. It is also important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group.

How do you write a healthy diet? ›

8 tips for healthy eating
  1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg. ...
  3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish. ...
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. ...
  5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults. ...
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight. ...
  7. Do not get thirsty. ...
  8. Do not skip breakfast.

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