A child’s nutritional needs are different from an adult’s, so are his food choices. Today’s hard lifestyle requires a child to eat healthy in order to juggle between long school hours, sports, tuitions and extra-curricular activities.
While you wonder about preparing a healthy meal plan for your child, keep in mind to limit all the unhealthy foods that are high in fat and sugar. It will ensure that your child stays at a healthy weight and prevent health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol later in life.
Until your child is two years old, give them whole milk. The extra fat in whole milk will help his body grow. After two years of age, you can turn to skin or low-fat milk (1 or 2%) for them.
Give your child small portions of food and let him decide how much he wants to eat. Do not count calories or ask him to stop eating or to eat more. Most children know how much food their body needs.
If your child does not want to eat a new food, do not force him to do so. Offer the food again after a few days and let him decide if he wants to eat it. Children need to see a new food as many as 8 or 10 times before they are willing to eat it.
Introducing low-fat healthy foods at an early age to the meal habituates children to eat healthy even when they grow up. Feed your child lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
Avoid feeding them high-fat foods which are usually fried. A high-fat diet can cause children to become overweight and develop other health problems when they are adults.
Your child also needs to learn to make healthy eating habits at office. Pack them foods like a sandwich with protein such as lean meat, cheese, or peanut butter. If he buys food from school canteen, make him aware of all the options that are fresh and healthy.
Your child needs to eat regular meals and snacks. Let him decide how much they want to eat. On the days he is more active, your child may want to eat more while on other days he might not feel that hungry. He may also eat more if he is going through a growth spurt.
Switch off the television at the meal times. Make your child to sit at the table and eat. Children like to eat the same kind of food they see their parents eating. If your child sees you eat healthy food, he will learn to like healthy food too.
The age and weight of your child decides the number of servings sufficient for him. Ask your dietician how many servings your child needs. Here is some advice on the quantity of food your child needs.
Half of your child's plate should contain fruits and vegetables. Offer fresh, canned, or dried fruit instead of fruit juice as often as possible.
Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden -- and thus even more appealing. Call candy, soda, and cookies "sometimes" foods and let your kids have sugary cereals when they visit their grandparents or when they're on vacation. But do not make it a habit.
Read more articles on Diet and Nutrition.
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