One of the most important things we can teach our kids during our current obesity epidemic is the basics of eating right. And *many* of those basics are grounded in math…from portion control to how much of what foods to eat.

The USDA’s new “MyPlate” recommendation makes it a little bit easier to visually see how much of your plate the folks over at the USDA are currently recommending should be composed of each food group. It’s not only easier, but healthier to see these fractions when you work with whole foods. And meal time can double as math reinforcement when you work with your kids on what to serve the family.

Plated Portion Police :: Make your kids the “plate police” at dinner. Does everyone in the family have the right proportions of food on their plate? How much more of each food needs to be added? Taken away? Talk in fractions.

Grocery Graph :: Talk about eating a variety of proteins and grains and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, then make a weekly chart or graph of food types to include. (Laminate a copy and re-use the chart if your child particularly takes to this activity.) Bring it along to the grocery store and empower your kids to help you select what will be served at meals during the week, then have them be responsible for making tally marks (or filling in graph squares) to ensure you’re spicing up the family’s lifestyle with enough variety.

Chew On This Checklist :: has some handy checklists that you can use as jumping off points for conversations. (e.g. “You can have one grain serving in your lunchbox today. You’ve put 7 crackers in so far. How many do you need to take away?”  or “You’ve got a half a banana on your plate for breakfast this morning. How much more fruit can you eat today?”)

Extra Credit :: Find out what’s REALLY in the food your kids are asking for on We’re betting once your kids find out what’s being added to some of their favorites, (Beaver anal glands in vanilla ice cream?? Really??) your kids will start to make wiser food choices.

Nutrition Math