Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Play it again, Mama: Nutrition for Littles

I've been trying to gather information on what snacks my kids should be eating and how often they should be eating. My husband and I are having a debate about whether or not our son should be having a snack after his nap, even though it's close to dinner. And it got me thinking about how monotonous our snacks have become. We seem to eat the same stuff all the time and I've been looking for new ideas. This is what I've discovered.

1. Between the ages of 1-5, children should be getting 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies in a single day. What constitutes a serving? The serving size should be about the size of a child's fist. So as they grow, so does their serving size. This helps me a lot. I hear those visuals "The size of a deck of cards." That never makes sense to me. Now I can sit a deck of cards next to my hand and see they are the same, but the hand comes with me. Maybe my serving sizes will be more accurate now as well.

2. Allow grazing. Preschoolers should be eating up to 10 small "meals" a day. Now these aren't 4 course meals, but a little something here and there. Grazing allows them to all the nutrients they need through out the day. It keeps their metabolism and blood sugar steady. A fun idea I read was to make grazing trays. For children 1-2 years old, fill ice cube trays with snacks. For older children, fill muffin tins. Things like raisins, eggs, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, etc. Provide 1-2 dipping sauces such as guacamole, hummas, salsa, yogurt, peanut butter, etc. Make it available to them throughout the day.

3. Educate them early on about healthy choices. The more you expose them to healthy snacks and educate them, the more likely they are to continue these healthy habits later on in life. The snacks and foods they are exposed to now will train their taste buds for the future. The reverse is true as well. Eating junk food at an early age will train their taste buds as well.

4. Make nutrition fun for them. Provide them with "apple wheels" and "broccoli trees." See nutrition through 2 year old eyes.

5. Never use food to bride or appease your child. This connects food with emotions. Emotional eating can become a lifelong problem.

Here are some great snack ideas that I've come across. Feel free to comment with any additional ideas you've tried. frozen bananas on stick, dripped in yogurt
baked chips
granola bars
sunflower seeds
fig newtons
frozen fruit bars
frozen grapes
fruit juice (in moderation)
fruit shakes
Wheat Thins
light popcorn
homemade popsicles

1 comment:

Susie said...

Those are great tips:-)

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