Creating A Healthy Diet for Children – Part 1

Creating A Healthy Diet for Children Image by marie-ll via Flickr

Teaching your child to follow a nutritious diet at a young age will help build healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. Your child’s needs will change as they grow. The American Heart Association has a chart of dietary recommendations for children ages 1 to 18 (see Resources). It would be smart to incorporate a regular exercise regimen of at least 60 minutes a day in addition to the healthy diet.

Things You Will Need
•    100 percent fruit juice
•    Milk products
•    Vegetables
•    Beans
•    Soy or rice milk
•    Dried fruit
•    Nuts
•    Rice cakes
•    Whole-grain crackers or bread
•    Low-fat cheese
•    Peanut butter
•    Pretzels
•    Air-popped popcorn
•    Salt-free popcorn seasoning
•    Low-fat fruit smoothies
•    Low-fat yogurt
•    Fish
•    Vegetable oils

Step 1
Start supporting a healthy diet for your child as soon as possible. Breast feeding is optimal for nutrition for the first four to six months. Try to maintain breastfeeding for 12 months and slowly start transitioning other nutrition sources after four to six months. Delay giving the baby 100 percent juice until at least six months and limit the amount of juice to no more than 4 to 6 ounces per day.

Step 2
Advise your child’s school or day care provider of your decision and offer them a list of acceptable foods. Most schools offer menu choices for you to choose your child’s meals from.

Step 3
Ensure your child is getting adequate calcium in the new diet. Calcium is important for building strong bones and teeth. Milk products are a great source of calcium, but if your child cannot ingest milk products, there are other sources available. Vegetable sources of calcium include broccoli, mustard greens, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. High calcium beans include great northern beans, black turtle beans, navy beans and baked beans. Look for calcium-enriched soy or rice drinks to use in place of cow milk in recipes and cereals.

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