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Nutrition: What’s best for my child’s health and development?

Children are said to be overweight so there is a big push to put children on diets and only give them certain foods. It is important to remember that nutrition is vital to a child’s brain development. If children don’t receive the right amount of nutrients their brains are unable to function properly. Children who have poor eating habits are also more likely to be sick more often.

Children need to eat a balanced meal
Children need to eat a balanced meal
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There has been an increased popularity recently to have children eat a more vegetarian diet. This has its benefits when done properly. Having a balanced diet is the best way to help your child be healthier and have the energy to learn. Keep in mind that young children need to have some fats in their diet to help with brain function. Kids Health “Nutrition Guide for Toddlers” talks about nutrition through variety for toddlers.

Eating fast food is obviously not as healthy for you as a home-cooked meal. According to The Urban Child Institute “Nutrition and Early Brain Development” there is a difference between hunger and what is call food insecurity. Food insecurity is when cheaper more filling types of food are eaten over more costly nutritious foods. This causes an imbalance in the body. So as the cost of food goes up the ability for you to be able to buy the best kinds of food for your child could become more difficult. The best thing to do is understand what make a balanced diet for what age of child. Web MD “Kids Nutrition Basics for Parents” is another good source to help understand how to balance your child’s diet.

USDA has come out with a new food chart “My Plate” it shows how to balance the meals you feed your child. According to the “My Plate” standard you should feed your child the following:

Dairy
2-3yrs 2 cups a day
4-8yrs 2 ½ cups a day
Protein
2-3yrs 2 ounces a day
4-8yrs 4 ounces a day
Grain
2-3yrs 3 ounces a day
4-8yrs 5 ounces a day
Fruit
2-3yrs 1 cup a day
4-8yrs 1 ½ cups a day
Vegetable
2-3yrs 1cup a day
4-8yrs 1 ½ cups a day
Oils
2-3yrs 3 teaspoons a day
4-8yrs 4 teaspoons a day
Keep in mind these measurements are for the whole day. That includes snacks. The juice that is given is included in the fruit in-take for the day. The USDA has a Daily Food Planer will help you plan better balanced meals.