Teaching Preschoolers How To Choose Healthy Food

Preschool nutritional programs emphasize the importance of healthy eating by combining all food groups in a daily menu plan. Teaching children the importance of a healthy eating plan as a child will guarantee that they acquire good eating habits that will last a entire life.
Establishing healthy eating habits for children includes modeling their eating habits at home so that when they enter the school environment, they can make healthy selections.

The guidelines for teaching kids a healthy eating plan should include:

*Children should ingest a variety of foods. Each of the 5 major food groups contributes specific nutrients that are necessary for children’s growth and development.

* Teach little ones to balance the kinds of food they eat to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body

*Teach children moderation in the amounts and kinds of foods they consume. Eating foods high in fat content or consuming too many sugary snacks should be limited.

You can determine the amount of food from each food group that is right for little ones depending on their age. The USDA has specific guidelines for little ones from the age of 2-8.

Finding a healthy eating plan for your child will include selections from each of the five food groups. These recommendations are based on the guidelines from the USDA food pyramid.

1) Bread and Grains: 6 servings a day

These foods provide energy for activity and growth. Little ones should ingest some whole grain items. At least half of the grains eaten should be in the form of whole-grain cereals and sandwiches prepared with whole wheat bread. Check the ingredients on the product label to make sure that the product is in fact made with "whole wheat."

2) Milk & Milk Products: 3-4 servings a day

These products provide needed calcium for stong teeth and bones. Little ones from 2 to 8 years of age should ingest 2 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or its equivalent in milk products.

3) Fruits - 2 servings per day

The amount of fruits little ones should eat is determined by their calorie needs. But the base requirement as outlined in the food pyramid for this age group is a minimum of 2 fruit servings per day.

4) Vegetables – 3 servings a day
Veggies provide the vital nutrients and minerals to protect eyesight and the body's immune system.

5) Meats, Beans & Nuts: 2 servings per day

Meats, beans & nuts provide protein and iron to form muscles.

After the age of two, the little one's diet should limit the types of fat and salt they consume. Caregivers should limit the consumption of high saturated fats or salt (sodium) in the diet to reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Total fat intake should be limited to 30 and 35 percent of calories for children ages 2 to 3 years, and between 25 and 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents from the age of 4 to 18.

Most fats should come from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.

Limit the number and amount of sugary snacks your child is eating. Sugary snacks containweight problems and cavities.

Replace sugary snacks with healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, and whole grains which are all good choices.

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About The Author, Christine Steendahl
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