The Food Pyramid and How to Use It

Food is the basis of children's health. Excess sweets and not drinking enough water can make them sick. The food pyramid can be a great guide for parents.
The Food Pyramid and How to Use It

Last update: 19 December, 2018

The food pyramid is a graph that shows what foods to include and how much is necessary to follow a balanced diet. 

It shows all of this in a very simple, practical way, and explains all of the food groups in detail.

How to interpret the food pyramid

Some of the amounts of food vary for each family, particularly meat and fruit. However, in general, it’s good to follow the recommended portions for each type of food.

Base of the pyramid: whole grains, tubers and legumes

Over the years, cereals and wholemeal flours have been the base of the food pyramid. This means that we should eat these foods the most often.

Within this group, legumes, nuts and tubers are important, according to the Spanish Society of Neuroscience (SSNS). You can include, for example, whole oats at breakfast or roasted potatoes at dinner.

Second step: fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are essential in a balanced diet. You should have at least five servings a day of them. To make it easier for kids, you can give them some at lunch or as a side dish for breakfast.

Third step: protein sources

Foods such as fish, cheese and dairy, rich in protein, are in the third step. This means you can eat two or three servings a day of dairy maximum. Also, you can have one to three servings of meat, fish and eggs a day.

The Food Pyramid and How to Use It

Fourth step: sweet, fried, and unhealthy fats

In the final step, you’ll find foods that shouldn’t be eaten often. These include sweets, fried foods, and unhealthy fats.

In fact, these foods can be harmful to your children if they eat too much of them. If you want to follow a healthy diet at home, you should eliminate them from the menu completely.

Water as a base in some food pyramids

In some food pyramid graphs, water is the base. This should definitely be in your children’s diet. Kids need at least 4 to 6 glasses every day.

Olive oil reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL). In addition, it has other health benefits. It can help control diabetes and high blood pressure. Olive oil also has anti-inflammatory effects, among others.

Points to take into account

Among the key information you should keep in mind, the most important thing to remember is to give your children lots of water. In addition, make sure to limit the amount of sweets they eat.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning your family’s menu:

  • Water is fundamental. This doesn’t mean that you can’t drink juice or other drinks. However, limit them to special occasions.
  • Sweets shouldn’t be part of your diet. Parents should take into account all of the negative effects sweets have. Candy can produce cavities, in addition to what we mentioned earlier. Also, if your children eat too much of it, they could get more serious diseases, like diabetes.
  • Dairy products shouldn’t exceed 500 milliliters a day.
  • Make sure to integrate fruits and vegetables into their diet. Kids need five servings a day, at least.
  • It’s important to reduce the amount of fat they eat. Especially limit fats that come from animals. The only fat that’s considered to be a bit healthier is olive oil.
The Food Pyramid and How to Use It
  • Reduce salt intake. Just like sugar, too much salt can lead to diseases.
  • People generally eat more meat than fish. However, experts recommend eating more fish than meat.
  • If you have a baby that still consumes breast milk, continue until he’s at least 6 months old.
  • Make sure to add cereals, potatoes and legumes into your family’s diet.

It’s really easy to follow a proper diet when you use the food pyramid. Eating the right portion sizes of the food will help your children be healthy. In addition, they will develop correctly, both physically and mentally.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hartley L., May MD., Loveman E., Colquitt JL., Rees K., Dietary fibre for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2016.
  • Arulselvan P., Fard MT., Tan WS., Gothai S., et al., Role of antioxidants and natural products in inflammation. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2016.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.