How to make sure your child is getting the right nutrition

My plate food amountsWhat your kids eat now is so important, because it’s shaping their lifelong eating habits and helping their little budding brains and bodies grow properly.

My three-year-old is practically a stick. But he loves sweets, and I have a tough time steering him toward vegetables. Over the past year, I had gradually come to rely on packaged food for almost all his snacks. Yes, it was mostly organic with no added unnatural stuff, but the other day he told me he didn’t like apples! What kid does not like apples?

(Side note to self: don’t let your temporary compromise become the new standard!)

Looking to get back on track with a solid resource to guide me as I plan meals for our family, I stumbled on ChooseMyPlate.gov, a resource aimed at helping Americans make healthy eating choices. (It used to be the food pyramid, which you have probably heard of. Now it’s all on a plate.)

The recommendations apply for ages 2 and up, so why not get into a healthy routine together with your children?

The MyPlan SuperTracker shows general recommended amounts of each food group for a 2000 calorie diet. Here are the targets:

Grains                   6 oz

Vegetables         2.5 cups

Fruits                    2 cups

Dairy                     3 cups

Protein Foods   5.5 oz

I love that they’ve also allowed for empty calories: not more than 258 per day! Because I just think it would be impossible to aim for no chocolate in a day, for me at least.

You can also create a personalized food plan for you or your kids (info for preschoolers here) based on age, gender, height, weight and activity level, and then enter actual data every day if you’d like.

Check out the 10 Tips series. Each topic is one sheet of information that would fit nicely on a fridge door, for you and your kids to see. Choose from topics like “Make Half Your Grains Whole” and “Kid Friendly Veggies and Fruits”.

And if your child is into coloring, print out a coloring sheet of MyPlate. Let your child draw in some of his or her favorite foods from each category!

If you’re wondering if he or she is eating enough in general, go check out Making Sure Your Child is Eating Enough by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Comments (2)

  1. Leslie Guenther

    I love the guide but honestly after three little ones I just make as healthy a meal as I can and ask them to eat a little of each thing. Then if they only eat something from one or two food groups I will make their snacks geared towards the other food groups. Works for my little ones and keeps me from always wondering if they are getting enough each day.

    • Lisa

      Leslie, that sounds like a good idea! I just realized I had no idea how much of each food group my little guy was supposed to be getting. Once I knew that, I could wing it better, but I realized he wasn’t getting enough vegetables (of course!) and even protein. (I had read somewhere that toast with peanut butter and a glass of milk was enough protein for the day, but it’s not according to this guide.) So I’m making some adjustments here and there and working on my own nutrition, too.

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