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What Do Kids Need To Eat?

4955086525_a79e1925a3_zSometimes when parents send their kids to school, they feel relieved. They think gone are the daily hassles over meal times, what to eat for snacks, introducing new foods, and encouraging children to eat healthy food choices. Unfortunately those assumptions aren’t always right. Children beginning their school years still have many nutritional needs to meet. While our children are at school they face many new choices about food and what to eat. As a parent, you have the power to guide your child toward a life of healthy nutrition. Here is some information we found at sfgate.com to help understand why our kids need to learn to eat a balanced diet.

Grains

Grains refer to foods such as breads, cereals, pasta and rice and should make up the foundation of any child’s diet. Foods in this group contain complex carbohydrates and are important sources of the calories, vitamins, minerals and fiber children need on a daily basis. Eating a variety of grains is recommended. Choose whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, bran cereals and oatmeal that are lower in calories and provide more nutrients over cookies, cakes and pastries which tend to be high in calories and fat and provide little nutritional value.

Vegetables and Fruit

The first place to start when trying to improve your child’s nutrition is to add more fruits and vegetables to her diet. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of many nutrients. They contain necessary vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, starch and fiber. Research shows that people who consume diets rich in fruits and vegetables have lower risk for heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Focus on offering your child a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will ensure your child is getting the many different nutrients he needs.

Dairy

The dairy group includes foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt that provide children with an adequate source of calcium for strong bones. During childhood, bones are growing and developing, so it’s critical to get sufficient amounts of calcium-rich foods daily. Recent evidence also suggests that children with a diet rich in calcium from low-fat dairy foods have lower body fat than children with a lower dairy intake.

Protein

Foods from the protein group pack a lot of nutrition into a small package. These foods include chicken, turkey, fish and beef that provide high-quality protein, easily absorb-able iron and zinc, as well as vitamin B12, which is only available from animal sources. Lean meats are low in calories and are an essential part of any child’s diet. Adequate protein intake is critical for growing children. Vegetarian meat alternatives such as beans, tofu, eggs and nuts are also acceptable food choices for this group and should be consumed regularly.

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