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Nutrition for Kids and Adults

August 16, 2019 Prepared By Danelle

We get inundated daily with what is good nutrition and what is not. Are you feeding yourself and your family a healthy diet? Are you on a “special” diet such as Keto, South Beach, Medical Weight Loss or Atkins? Are you following the USDA guidelines? 

Each of these approaches to health play into how we view nutrition and what we consider important. Nutrition is a very personal choice because it encompasses everything we consume. As adults, we have control over that, but what about children? They depend on their parents and guardians to supply a healthy and nutritious diet. But what does a “healthy and nutritious diet” mean, and how does a child’s diet compare to an adult’s diet? Let’s find out!

The Definition of Nutrition

Nutrition is the process of providing or obtaining the necessary food for health and growth. Everything we put into our bodies is comprised of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats, as well as micronutrients such as sodium, sugars and vitamins. As we eat, we can calculate those nutrients in order to control our diet and health (easier said than done sometimes).

You can increase or decrease nutrients depending on your daily intake goals. The Percent Daily Value (%DV) shows how much of a nutrient is in one serving of food. A serving of food is based on the amount of food that is customarily eaten at one time. Other factors can affect your %DV too such as age, gender, height, weight and physical activity level.

Nutrition Tools

There are several tools available to better control nutrition, including foods’ Nutrition Facts Label and MyPlate. The following is an example of a Nutrition Facts Label. 

You can see the values that go into a Nutrition Facts panel and how they then relate to %DV.

Next, moving on to MyPlate we can see what %DV means visually and proportionally. The USDA started MyPlate in 2011 to help people visualize what they should be eating. Here is an example:

This plate is what children are currently being taught in their classrooms. When I was in school, I was taught the Food Pyramid, and for people before me, it was the Food Wheel. MyPlate is quite an effective tool and really gives a great model on how your plate should look. 

Nutrition for School-aged Children

Let’s dive into more specifics. According to USDA guidelines, a somewhat active girl should consume 1600-2000 calories per day. A 9-13 year-old girl should eat the following in one day:

  • 2 cups of vegetables
  • 1.5 cups of fruit
  • 5 oz of grains
  • 5 oz of protein
  • 3 cups of dairy
  • 5 tsp of oils (not separately placed on the plate).

A 9-13 year-old boy should eat virtually the same except an extra 0.5 cup of vegetables for a total of 2.5 cups, and another ounce of protein for a total of 6 oz. A somewhat active boy should consume 1800-2200 calories.

For children younger than nine or older than 13, the amounts vary slightly—a half cup here, an ounce there, and some categories remain the same. The amount of calories consumed decreases or increases based on activity level as well.

A school lunch should represent 1/3 of these values. I have three children and have seen their actual school lunches. There have been many changes from when I had a school lunch, and I do feel schools observe these values in incorporating healthy choices and amounts. As discussed above, MyPlate does not list an amount of calories to hit or the amount of sodium to be under, instead it focuses on portion control. If you are looking at your plate and you follow MyPlate’s amounts to eat, you will most likely be naturally eating the correct %DV per day. 

Nutrition for Adults

Let’s compare the standards for a 9-13 year-old girl or boy to a 31-50 year-old woman or man.

An adult woman 31-50 years old should have the following in one day according to the USDA dietary guidelines:

  • 2.5 cups of vegetables
  • 1.5 cups of fruit
  • 6 oz of grains
  • 5 oz of protein
  • 3 cups of dairy
  • 5 tsp of oil

Surprisingly, the differences are small between an adult woman and a young girl—only a half cup of vegetables and one ounce of grain more for an adult. I know how my 10-year-old daughter eats (like a bird) and how I eat (more than a bird). Apparently, we both need to come to a median point to hit these amounts.

Moving on to an adult man, a 31-50 year old should have the following in one day according to the USDA dietary guidelines:

  • 3 cups of vegetables
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 7 of grains
  • 6 oz of protein
  • 3 cups of dairy
  • 6 tsp of oil

So basically, men need a little bit more of everything. Many are surprised by how little nutrition guidelines differ from childhood to adult.

Here is the whole chart to review if interested:

Knowing the different nutrition standards between children and adults is important at every level of the food-making process. At Asenzya, we create custom seasonings to not only enhance a food’s flavor, we also work to ensure the food hits a specific nutritional target. Our seasonings help create delicious, healthy meals. Contact our expert team to learn more about how we help our customers achieve their nutritional needs and to get the Nutrition Facts Panel you desire.

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