School Age NutritionYour child's nutrition is important to his overall health. Proper nutrition, which should include eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, limiting high sugar and high fat foods, eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low fat dairy products, including 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt to meet their calcium needs can also prevent many medical problems, including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to his full potential.
The best nutrition advice to keep your child healthy includes encouraging him to:
- Eat a variety of foods
- Balance the food you eat with physical activity
- Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits
- Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
- Choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt
- Choose a diet that provides enough calcium and iron to meet their growing body's requirements
The Food Guide Pyramid for young children was designed by the US Dept. of Agriculture to promote healthy nutrition in children over two years of age. It is meant to be a general guide to daily food choices. The main emphasis of the food pyramid is on the five major food groups, all of which are required for good health. It also emphasises that foods that include a lot of fats, oils and sweets should be used very sparingly.
To prevent feeding problems, teach your child to feed himself as early as possible, provide him with healthy choices and allow experimentation. Mealtimes should be enjoyable and pleasant and not a source of struggle. Common mistakes are allowing your child to drink too much milk or juice so that he isn't hungry for solids, forcing your child to eat when he isn't hungry, or forcing him to eat foods that he doesn't want.
An important way that children learn to be independent is through establishing independence about feeding. Even though your child may not be eating as well rounded a diet as you would like, as long as your child is growing normally and has a normal energy level, there is probably little to worry about. Also, most children do not eat a balanced diet each and every day, but over the course of a week or so, their diet will usually be well balanced. You can consider giving your child a daily vitamin if you think he is not eating well, although most children don't need them.
Other ways to prevent feeding problems are to not use food as a bribe or reward for desired behaviors, avoid punishing your child for not eating well, limit mealtime conversation to positive and pleasant topics, avoid discussing or commenting on your child's poor eating habits while at the table, limit eating and drinking to the table or high chair, and limit snacks to two nutritious snacks each day.
Feeding practices to avoid are giving large amounts of sweet deserts, soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sugarcoated cereals, chips or candy, as they have little nutritional value. Also be careful with foods that your child can choke on, such as raw carrots, peanuts, whole grapes, tough meats, popcorn, chewing gum or hard candy.
For more information on your five year old's nutrition:
- Childhood Obesity
- Brown Bag School Lunches
- Calorie Calculator
- Switching to Low Fat Milk
- Fruit Juice
- Picky Eaters
- Nutrition Facts Quiz
- Iron Rich Foods
- Eating Fruits and Vegetables
- Food Allergies
- High Fiber Foods
- Boosting Calories
- Food Pyramid
- Reading Food Labels
- Protein Rich Foods
- Soda and Drink Guidelines
- How Many Fruits and Vegetables Should My Kids Eat?