Eating various foods keeps our meals flavorful and healthy, and for children, healthy diets are essential for their growing bodies. Providing them with a healthy diet is the most secure way to prevent disease and illness. Their food preferences develop early in life, and choosing healthy meals can encourage children to eat healthily and keep moving. At Aeris Pediatrics, we help families keep up with their nutritional guidelines by following Harvard’s Kids Healthy Eating Plate to encourage and nurture their bodies for life.
The Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate Simplified
Children need a balanced, healthy diet because each food contains a unique mixture of nutrients they need to grow and develop. A healthy diet contains macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fat) and micronutrients(minerals and vitamins). Both macronutrients and micronutrients provide a guideline for families to make the best eating choices.
It starts with filling half the plate with vegetables and fruits and the other half with whole grains and healthy protein. The plate also should contain healthy oils and fats and a small number of dairy foods to maintain optimal nutrition. Below, we’ll break down your child’s plate and help you learn what eating behaviors are healthy for your child’s growth.
- Vegetables: The more variety of vegetables you have on your plate, the better nutrition your child gets. These include spinach, broccoli, onions, carrots, squash, and mushrooms are all excellent examples of vegetables that provide the nutrition your child needs. Vegetables can lower blood sugar, reduce the risk of heart disease, and prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Fruits: Fruits of all colors should be eaten, and it doesn’t include fruit juices. Oranges, grapefruits, grapes, apples, and strawberries are excellent for getting micronutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
- Whole Grains: Minimally processed whole grains, including whole wheat, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice, help manage blood sugar and insulin and provide nutrients such as B vitamins and fiber.
- Healthy Protein: Limit their intake of red meats, such as beef and pork and replace it with poultry, eggs, and fish. Plant-based varieties such as beans, nuts, and seeds are also excellent for helping them build up their muscles, keep their hearts strong, and promote healthy growth.
- Healthy Oils: Cooking with healthy oils such as extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil can promote better absorption of unsaturated fats, which lower disease risk and lessen weight gain.
- Dairy: Dairy should be consumed in smaller amounts, but it is essential for getting calcium and Vitamin D for healthy bones. Choosing unflavored yogurts, smaller amounts of cheese, and low-fat milk can help give them sources of protein, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin D for their growing bodies.
- Hydration and Exercise: Children should drink at least eight-ounce cups of water equal to their age, with children ages one to three years needing approximately four cups of beverages per day. Juices and milk should be limited, and they should have at least one hour of physical activity per day.
Choosing Aeris Pediatrics For Your Child’s Nutritional Needs
If you’re searching for ways to improve your child’s nutrition, Dr. Jared Hansen provides over 15 years of experience as a pediatrician and will happily meet with you to discuss your child’s nutrition and health to support their growth and establish a better, healthier lifestyle. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment, and we’ll be happy to help you!