Ways to keep your children healty and fit

By | January 17, 2009

child_bloggerswatch_1Today, feeding children is based on concerns about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. There is reason to be concerned. More than 20 percent of Western children are overweight with a good chance that 50 to 70 percent of them will remain overweight as adults. It is important for parents to set good examples of healthful eating.

Research shows that children develop eating habits similar to those of their parents. While it is a parent’s job to provide balanced selections from the five food groups, children can be allowed a certain amount of freedom to choose what and how much they eat. Poor eating habits and craving for sugar snacks and fatty foods may develop if parents fail to direct the decision making process. Remember that the issue isn’t “good foods” versus “bad foods”.

If children balk at food put before them, don’t worry. Studies show children will, over time, eat the amount of food that is right for them if they are offered healthful choices. You can’t expect a child to want to eat broccoli if chips are offered, or drink milk or orange juice when parents are drinking sodas. Of course, an occasional high fat food, gooey dessert, sugary snack, or soda is permissible, provided they are not substitutes for nutritious foods. Parents can make eating a pleasure for the entire family by helping create positive attitudes about food that will lead to a lifetime of good health.

What are the five food groups, and how can we help the entire family eat a balanced diet? The food guide pyramid on this page shows how to select a balanced diet and how to teach your child to make wise choices. How many servings do you need each day?

Calorie level 1,600(Many women and older adults)
2,200(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
2,800(Teen boys and active men)

Bread Group Servings 6(Many women and older adults)
9(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
11(Teen boys and active men)

Vegetable Group Serving 3(Many women and older adults)
4(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
5(Teen boys and active men)
Fruit Group Servings 2(Many women and older adults)
3(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
4(Teen boys and active men)

Milk Group serving 2-3(Many women and older adults)
2-3(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
2-3(Teen boys and active men)

Meat Group Servings 2, for a total of 5 ounces (Many women and older adults)
2, for a total of 6 ounces (Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
3 for a total of 7 ounces(Teen boys and active men)

Total Fat (grams) 53(Many women and older adults)
73(Children, teen girls, active women and most men)
93((Teen boys and active men)

These are the calorie levels if you choose low fat.lean foods from the 5 major food groups and use foods from the fats, oils, and sweets group sparingly. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teenagers, and young adults to age 24 need 3 servings. A balanced diet includes food from each of the following food groups:
1. Grains (bread, cereal, rice, and pasta);
2. Fruit (fresh, dried, or unsweetened canned);
3. Vegetables (raw or lightly cooked);
4. Meat (meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nuts); and
5. Dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese).
Offer your children nutritious choices for meals and snacks. This way you can help them control their own diet. For example, you might offer a choice of an apple, an orange, or a banana. With older children (aged 7 and up) you can start by planning a menu together, letting the children check to make sure it includes all five food groups.

Author: Iri McPhee

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