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Nutrition for School Age Children

  • Nutrition is important for your children’s normal growth and it is important to ensure your grade school child has a well-balanced diet.
  • Your children should start their day with a healthy breakfast and packing them a healthy lunch would be ideal.  Getting them to eat that might actually be tricky.
  • All meals that your children eat should reflect the recommendations in “my plate”.  Half the plate should be fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of the plate protein, 1/4 of the plate carbohydrate.
  • Your children should drink 1-2% milk (2-3 cups/day), or water.  There should be no sugary drinks in their diet!  Rehydration fluids should be water, not Gatorade type drinks.
  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day is the recommendation.
  • 2-3 protein servings per ay (palm sized).  5-6 (fist sized) carbohydrate servings per day.

Breakfast:

  • Even if they insist on sugary cereals, sprinkle them on whole grain cereal.  Some dairy and fruit should go along with it.
  • Eggs are a great breakfast food even if it’s French toast (fruit, no syrup).

Lunch:

  • Pack lunch the night before to minimize the morning madness.
  • Make sandwiches with whole-grain breads and wraps.  Leftovers also work.
  • Pack healthy snacks such as low fat cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, a small container of natural peanut butter or hummus with whole grain crackers, cut up raw vegetables, nuts, or fruit.

Dinner:

  • Eat dinner as a family, with no electronics, as many days per week as is possible.
  • Serve everyone a plate of food.
  • The salad and the vegetables should be on the table.
  • 1-2% milk and water should be on the table.
  • The protein, (which should be preferably cooked by broiling, grilling, baking and roasting) should be on the kitchen counter after serving their plates.
  • The pasta, rice, potato, corn, stuffing and peas after their plate is served should be wrapped and put in the refrigerator.

SOME PARENTING TIPS:

  1. Hungry children will eat healthier food if they are hungry.
  2. Parents need to be their children’s role model.  Please do not buy unhealthy snacks.
  3. Show with your children at farmers markets and the outside aisles of your favorite supermarket (where healthier foods are).
  4. If changing the way your children are eating, be positive about healthy food.  For instance, “this apple is going to be so great, doesn’t it remind you of the time we went apple picking with all your friends”.  “Eating all these healthy foods will make you smarter and run faster”.
  5. Help children pick a recipe that they can make with you, have it be a family project.

 

Dr. Judy Hochstadt