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Key messages new food guidelines- Increase fruits, vegetables and switch to fat-free or low fat dairy

Posted on Feb 04, 2011 by Maggie LaBarbera

We shared information and practical tips for the first key message of the new USDA  dietary guidelines earlier this week. Today, let's take a look at the second key message that the USDA wants families to focus on:

Key Message #2:  Foods to Increase

  • 'Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
  • Switch to fat-free or low fat (1%) milk

Most children do not get the recommended amount of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) their body needs.

  • Vegetables  - green leafy vegetables and orange vegetables
  • Fruits - not fruit juice that has lots of sugar but fresh fruit
  • Calcium and vitamin D without the added fat (milk can be high in fat if you drink whole milk - even 2% fat) that comes from low fat milk.  There are other foods high in calcium and vitamin D but milk just happens to be fortified to supply both (and you need both vitamin D and calcium because they work together)
  • Dietary fiber which comes from 100% whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes
  • Also decrease your fat intake by eating more fish and seafood instead of meat.
How this message is important to your child:

Kids may be getting enough calories which give them energy to function throughout the day, but they need more than just calories.

  • Kids need nutrient dense foods or in other words, foods that are high in vitamins and minerals.  These vitamins and minerals are the key to building a very strong immune system that fights disease
  • A healthy brain that is ready to learn and retain knowledge and all the vital other organs that are in the process of developing
  • Fiber helps keep the heart system healthy and the digestion system clean
  • All these nutrients help to prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes just to name a few
We all want our kids to be healthy but sometimes in our busy lives, we forget that one of the most important elements to raising a healthy child is healthy foods.  Foods that don't come in a box but are fresh and foods that we cook at home.


Increasing fiber ideas

  • Plan your meals ahead to include at least half of your grains are 100% whole grains.
  • Give your child plenty of water.
  • Cut back on refined foods.
  • Encourage your child to use the Nutrition Facts label to find out how much fiber is in each serving of food. A good rule of thumb to remember is if the food has 5 grams or more per serving it is considered high in fiber.
  • Be a positive role model; children learn many of their behaviors by watching what older siblings and grown-ups do. The next time the fresh vegetables are passed to you, take a serving and say, “I love fresh vegetables!” Soon your child will be eating it and saying they love it too.
Increasing fruits and veggies tips

✰Start by talking with the kids about fruits and vegetables and why they are important for everyone in the family. ✰Have a few positive conversations about healthy eating and what kinds of foods that includes during mealtime. ✰You can even show them the food pyramid and how the green and red bands represent the fruit and vegetable food group. ✰You can have the family sign an agreement to add more fruits and vegetables into their daily meals. ✰Then keeping it fun and positive, have a colorful tracking chart on the refrigerator that the children can color in as they have a fruit or vegetable throughout the day ✰Have the kids list some of the fruits and vegetables they do like ✰Create your shopping list by food groups so the children can easily see the fruits and vegetables on the list ✰Have the kids help pick out the fruits and vegetables at the grocery list ✰Have the kids help wash and put away the fruits and vegetables

Make it fun by using our fun contracts and then track their progress.

Keep it positive and remember - small changes do add up to a healthier child with healthier habits!

Start with just one or two goals and work on that for a few weeks.  Once this is "routine" than move on to another simple change.

Related resources - setting healthy food goals with your family

Setting goals with your child and keeping them motivated

Fun Kids Tracking and Goals Sheets

More tips:

Fruits and Veggies For Kids Tips

Children And Fiber Tips

Foods to Boost Your Child’s Fiber

Healthy Foods Shopping List

Fruits and Veggies in Season





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