June 11, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter
As a parent, it is up to you to provide healthy food to your children in appropriate portions; however, it is your child who decides how much they want to eat. The American Association of Pediatrics offers great tips for ensuring that your child is eating enough and getting all of the nutrients they need.
Portion Size: A smart way to get children to accept new foods is to serve child size portions as to not overwhelm them.
- Serve 1/4 to 1/3 of the adult portion size, or 1 measuring tablespoon of each food for each year of your child’s age.
- Give less than you think your child will eat. Let your child ask for more if he/she is still hungry.
How do I know when my child is eating enough: It’s easy to worry because young children appear to eat very small amounts of food, especially when compared with adult portions; however, children normally eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. If you are concerned about your child’s eating pattern, pay attention to his/her food choices.
- Offer all food groups at every meal. Make sure no one food group is completely left out. If this happens for a few days, don’t worry. However, missing out on a food group for a long time could keep your child from getting enough nutrients.
- Encourage your child to eat a variety of foods within the food groups by modeling good eating yourself. Even within a food group, different foods provide different nutrients.
Building a healthy plate: MyPlate (the new healthy eating food icon that replaced MyPyramid) is a great tool that is meant to provide guidance on the type and amount of food Americans should eat.
- Balancing calories– Enjoy your food, but avoid oversized portions.
- Foods to increase– Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, switch to nonfat or low-fat dairy choices (only if older than 24 months), opt for whole grains, and make sure to never skip out on proteins.
- Foods to reduce– Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals; offer more nutritious beverages such as water, milk, or 100% fruit juice instead of sugar-sweetened beverages; although you don’t want to promote negative feelings toward food and labeling things as “bad,” still make an effort to limit intake of junk food and offer more fruit, veggies, and healthier options.