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Diet and Nutrition for Children

Aug 17, 2007
As parents, we know how important it is for our children to eat healthy and receive all the vitamins and nutrients for a healthy body. Many of us also know about the Food Guide Pyramid, but you may not know that children do not use the same food pyramid as adults. Children should eat foods according to the food pyramid designed for children.

The food pyramid emphasizes food from the five major food groups, which your child needs for good health. Such items as fats, oil, and sweets should not be used as much as foods that promote good health. Yes, your child between the age of 2 to 6 will love sweets but this should not be a replacement for healthy food and should not be given all the time.

Obesity is a major problem in the US in young children and this problem begins with you. You have to control what your child eats and ensure they are eating well-balanced and healthy foods and not overdoing it on junk foods.

To begin with, your child should eat 3 well-balanced meals and 2 nutritious snacks every day. Let's start at the top of the pyramid with the Fats, Oils and Sweets. When it comes to this category, you should not allow your child to eat more than 30% of their diet from this group. The type of fat your child is consuming is very important. Saturated fasts include foods like meats, dairy products, coconut, palm and palm kernel oil, raise cholesterol more than unsaturated fats, which are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, or polyunsaturated fats in safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. They should only receive 10% of their daily calories from saturated fats.

Everyone believes that children need lots of milk for their growing bodies; however, they only need 2 servings from the milk group per day after age 2 until they turn 6. The amount of milk should be between 16-24 ounces per day. Other items in this group include 1 cup of yogurt and 2 ounces of cheese as a serving.

Within the meat group, your child should receive 2 servings per day. This can include 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, fish, or poultry, or cup of cooked dry beans. Other things you can use as substitutes include 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1 egg for 1 ounce of meat.

You child should eat 3 servings from the vegetable group every day. One serving consists of cup of chopped or raw vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables.

From the fruit group your little one should eat 2 servings per day. This can include 1 piece of fruit or a wedge of a melon, cup of 100 percent fruit juice, cup of dried fruit, or cup of canned fruit.

From the grain group you should serve your child 6 servings per day. This can include for one serving 1 slice of bread, cup of cooked pasta or rice, 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal, or cup of cooked cereal.
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