Monday, June 1, 2009

Healthy eating habits for kids

I always look for ways to introduce and practice healthy eating habits for my daughter. I was a chubby kid when I was in elementary school and I am worried that my daughter may have gotten my gene. I feel that it's my duty to teach her to make healthy eating choices and be physically active. I found Dr.Susan's kids-only Weight Loss Guide book in our library during my last visit. I liked reading it and thought of sharing some useful points from her book.

According to Dr.Susan, there are three simple steps that you must take with your child down the path towards healthy eating. Those are

Step one: Help your child make healthier choices.

Step two: Teach your child to eat smaller portions.

Step three: Make sure your child eats enough and isn't deprived of foods she loves.

For step one, you have teach your child about main food groups. You can use USDA's food group pyramid. Once your child learns about different food groups and their nutritional values, you can all sit together and take a look at the food your child is eating. List down all the meals and snacks your child is eating regularly and see if you can find healthier substitutions for them. Dr. Susan has given a list of great substitutions for the food that children like. Here are some :

French Toast : For the batter, use fat-free or low-fat milk and use 100% whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Give your child just a little syrup for flavor.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich: Use all natural peanut butter(read the label to make sure peanuts are the only ingredients),100% whole-wheat bread and real fruit jam instead of jelly.

Breakfast Cereal: Mix your child's favorite sugary cereal with a low sugar cereal(e.g., Honey nut cheerios mixed with Total or Frosted flakes mixed with bran flakes) and use low-fat or fat-free milk.

Pizza: A slice of veggie pizza is actually quite a well balanced meal for a child- it has protein,veggies and carbs. You can special order and ask for less cheese. Pair pizza with seltzer or water rather than soda.If you can convince your child to eat a salad along with it, you have got a great meal.

Potato Chips: Try replacing it with low-sodium pretzels,salted air-popped popcorn or couple of rice cakes.

Glazed donuts: Try donut hole, handful of jelly beans,a lollipop or a cup of caramel popcorn.

Large scoop of ice cream: Instead offer a small frozen yogurt or sorbet or a smaller scoop of ice cream.

Here's the food diagram for a vegeterian kid:

Now for step two, the child has to understand what a serving is and how many servings of a certain food group is needed everyday. Dr. Susan gives a list of serving sizes for common food items:

1. A serving of cooked pasta,rice,fruit,cereal or cooked vegetables is equal to an adult or teen's closed fist or a child's slightly open fist or a baseball.(about one cup).

2. A serving of cold cereal is two handfuls(about a cup).Teach your child to use the same size bowl every morning. Use a measuring cup once or twice to see where the cereal should measure up to in the bowl. Then your child will be able to pour a healthy portion of cereal each morning without help.Instead of a second bowl of cereal, offer a piece of fruit.

3.A serving of butter,margarine,cream cheese or mayonnaise is equal to the tip of your thumb to the first joint(about one tablespoon). Keep this in mind when you are making sandwiches for your child.

4.A serving of peanut butter if the size of a golf or ping pong ball(about two tablespoons).

5.A serving of waffle or pancake is equal to a CD(in circumference).

6.A serving of french fries is TEN fries.

7.A serving of chips or pretzels about Fourteen.

8.A serving of cheese is one string cheese, or it's the size of an adult's index finger or the shape of an index card(sliced cheese).

This book is really good and will be very useful for people who want to teach healthy eating habits to kids. Try reading it when you get a chance.

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