Healthy Eating Recommendations
Portion Sizes. Encourage a wide variety of foods for a healthy diet, keeping the portions in line with the recommended amount. Most of the portion sizes received in restaurants, including child-sized portions, are larger than recommended. Help children choose child-sized servings that are recommended.
Be Patient. Young children may not be interested in trying new foods. Offer a new food more than once. The food may be accepted when it becomes more familiar to your child.
Be a Planner. Most young children need a snack or two in addition to three regular daily meals.
- Check to ensure that the center is offering foods from three or more of the five major food groups for breakfast and lunch.
- Offer foods from four or more of the five major food groups for the "main meal."
- Plan the teaching schedules so snacks are not served too close to mealtime, and offer foods from two or more of the five major food groups.
Be a Good Role Model. What you do can mean more than what you say. Children learn from you about how and what to eat.
- Eat meals with the children.
- Try new foods and new ways of preparing them with your children and encourage the food service staff to prepare dark green leafy vegetables, deep-yellow vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Walk, run, and play with children; don't just sit on the sidelines.
Be Adventurous. Coordinate with food service staff and young children to choose a new vegetable or fruit, from two or three choices, for a weekly "try-a-new-food-day."
Be Creative. Encourage your child to invent a new snack or sandwich from three or four healthful ingredients you provide. Try a new bread or whole-grain cracker. Talk about what food groups the new snack includes and why it tastes good. Is the snack smooth, crunchy, sweet, juicy, chewy, or colorful?
Sample Menu Compared to Food Guide Pyramid
- Corn Flakes (1 oz = 1 Grain)
- Whole Wheat Toast (1 slice = 1 Grain)
- Margarine 1 tsp
- 2% Milk (1/2 c = 1/2 Dairy)
- Bagel (1/2 = 1 Grain)
- Cream Cheese 1 tsp
- 2% Milk (1/2 c = 1/2 Dairy)
- Turkey (2 oz = 1 Meat*)
- Whole-Wheat Bread (1 slice = 1 Grain)
- Minestrone Soup with Beans (1 c = 1 Vegetable)
- Saltine Crackers (1 oz = 1 Grain)
- Canned Peaches (1/2 c = 1 Fruit)
- 2 % Milk (1 c = 1 Dairy)
- Roasted Chicken Breast-No Skin (2 1/2 oz = 1 Meat*)
- Green Beans (1/2 c = 1 Vegetable)
- Baked Potato (1 small = 1 Vegetable)
- Dinner Roll (1 medium = 1 Grain)
- Margarine 2 tsp
- Sour Cream 2
- Apple Juice (3/4 c = 1 Fruit)
*2 servings of meat for a total of 4 1/2 oz
Children 2 to 3 years of age need the same variety of foods as 4- to 6-year-olds but may need fewer calories. Offer them smaller amounts.
- A good estimate of a serving for a 2- to 3-year-old child is about 2/3 of what counts as a regular adult Food Guide Pyramid serving. The adult servings are generally 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable, 3/4 cup of juice, 1 slice of bread, 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish.
- Two- to 6-year-old children need a total of 2 servings from the milk group each day.
© ______ 2004, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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