Childhood Obesity Nutrition

Nutrition Suggestions: Balancing Calories Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits

childhood obesity preventionAlthough everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations.

Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time. In addition to being fun for children and teens, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including:

► Strengthening bones
► Decreasing blood pressure
► Reducing stress and anxiety
► Increasing self-esteem

Encourage healthy eating habits: There's no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:

childhood obesity nutrition
Apply the same healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and grains) for your entire family, not just for select individuals.

Direct your family's choices rather than utter foods.

Plan times when you prepare foods together. Children enjoy participating and can learn about healthy cooking and food preparation.

Carefully cut down on the amount of fat and calories in your family's diet and avoid serving portions that are too large

Encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast as a good way to start the day

Avoid other activities during mealtimes such as watching TV.

Encourage your child to eat when hungry and to eat slowly.

Eat meals together at the dinner table at regular times as often as possible.

Eating a healthy breakfast is a good way to start the day and may be important in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Avoid rushing to finish meals. Eating too quickly does not allow enough time to digest and to feel a sense of fullness.

Children should be encouraged to drink water and to limit intake of beverages with added sugars, such as soft drinks, fruit juice drinks, and sports drinks. Plan for healthy snacks.

Don't place your child on a restrictive diet.

Switch your child from whole milk to 2% milk at age two years. If she or he is overweight, switch to 1% milk. In early childhood, skim milk should only be substituted following a doctor's recommendation.

Avoid using food as a reward or the lack of food as punishment.

Stock the refrigerator with fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruit, and vegetables instead of soft drinks or snacks that are high in fat, calories, or added sugars and low in essential nutrients.

Aim to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success. The recipes that you may prepare regularly, and that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying. For new ideas about how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet check out the recipe database from the FruitsandVeggiesMatter. This database enables you to find tasty fruit and vegetable recipes that fit your needs.

What counts as one serving?

Grain Group
• 1 slice of bread
• 1/2 cup of cooked rice or pasta
• 1/2 cup of cooked cereal
• 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal

childhood obesity nutrition Vegetable Group
• 1/2 cup of chopped raw or cooked vegetables
• 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables

Fruit Group
• 1 piece of fruit or melon wedge
• 3/4 cup of juice
• 1/2 cup of canned fruit
• 1/4 cup of dried fruit

Milk Group
• 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt
• 2 ounces of cheese

Meat Group
• 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
• 1/2 cup of cooked dry beans, or 1 egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter count as 1 ounce of meat.

Fats and Sweets
• Limit calories from these.

food pyramid

Four-to-6 year-olds can eat these serving sizes. Offer 2-to-3 year-olds less, except for milk. Two-to-6 year-old children need a total of 2 servings from the milk group each day.

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