When it comes to feeding your kids, it can seem like there are a lot of rules to follow. Kids need nutrients to grow strong and healthy, but you also have to limit sweets, fatty foods, sugar-laden drinks and watch portion sizes so they don’t develop problems with their weight or health.
Guidelines suggest that kids eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains than in the past and that they get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day.
TIPS FOR TERRIFIC MEALS
- Start your child’s day off right with a good breakfast. Kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school and have fewer issues with their weight.
- Sweets shouldn’t be off limits. Try to choose sweet treats that also pack a nutritional punch like fruit, pudding and frozen yogurt.
- Good choices are available at fast food restaurants. Select the regular size sandwich. Consider whole grain buns, broiled meats, salads with low fat
- Serve meals without distractions. Eat dinner as a family at the table and not in front of the TV. Turn off TVs, cell phones, computer games and handheld gaming devices. Don’t answer the phone during dinner. This is family time.
- Serve milk with meals so your child gets enough calcium and other important vitamins and minerals. Limit your child’s juice intake. Too much juice may make your child feel full and not hungry for the nutrient-rich foods you are serving at meals.
- Teach your child good table manners by setting a good example yourself.
- Choking is a big concern with kids, especially toddlers. Kids should be sitting upright when they eat, not out of their seats or running around. Avoid foods that are known to be choking hazards like whole hot dogs, raw carrots, hard candy, popcorn, nuts and grapes for children under age 3. Cut foods into pieces no more than a quarter-inch in diameter.
- Food-borne illnesses are on the rise. Be especially careful with raw meats. Using lots of warm, soapy water, wash your hands and all surfaces that come in contact with raw meat or its juices before you touch or do anything else. Never put cooked meat back on the same platter that held the raw meat. Cook all meats and poultry to a safe internal temperature.
- Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Put leftovers away promptly. Food left out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours should be thrown away.
- Make sure that your child washes her hands with soap and water before meals. Stash antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizer in his backpack for the times he can’t wash his hands before meals (like on field trips).