If you want to prevent childhood obesity one of the most important things you should know is what your child plate should look like. This seems like something that you should just know already, but you’d be surprised how many preschoolers’ plates I see lacking variety and color. In addition to not having enough variety and color, their plate also lacks balance.
It is very simple and there are only a few things that you have to remember. The first is that children have tiny tummies so do not give them adult portion sizes. Starting out with half of an adult portion or even 1/3 is a safe bet. You want to do this for several reasons. The first is you don’t want your child to feel obligated to finish their plates when there’s too much food on it, this is overwhelming to child. Secondly, you want to teach your child to learn when they are full and have had enough. This is a skill that will keep them from creating the habit of overeating. Learning this skill also helps a child to learn self regulation, where they determine how much they eat and when.
You want your child to learn self regulation when they are eating. In addition to preventing over eating and childhood obesity, self regulation builds a childs confidence in themselves and helps them to trust themselves in knowing what is best for them. You want your child to develop this early because this is the basis of self esteem and self confidence.
Your child’s plate should look like a rainbow with a variety of colors on it. Half of the plate should consist of fruits and vegetables the other half should consist of grains and a protein. You can serve the fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways. You can juice them, serve them in a soup or salad, steam them or serve them raw. Adding vegetables to casseroles is also a great way to get vegetables in.
Most people are pretty much familiar with what fruits and vegetables are as well as proteins but are sometimes not aware of what grains are. I say aware because once I start naming examples of grains people always say “oh that’s a grain”. Grains are any food that is made from wheat, rice. oats, cornmeal, barley, or a cereal grain. Some examples of grains are pasta, tortilla, oatmeal, rye, sandwich rolls and quinoa.
There are two types of grains, whole grains and refined grains. The whole grains are like the name implies it has the entire grain which consists of three parts, the bran, germ and endosperm. Whole grains contains vitiamins, nutrients and fiber, which is really important for digestive and colon health. Refined grains have been milled and the bran and germ are taken out. This procedure removes the fiber, iron and many B vitamins. So as much as possible you want to feed your child whole grains.
To drink, if your child is over the age of 2 it is recommended that they have non-fat or skim milk. Under the age of 2 regualr milk is fine. If you give them juice make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice and no more than 4-6 ounces. This requirement of 4-6 ounces is the total that is recommended for the entire day. You want to encourage your child to drink water as much as possible. In fact water should be readily available for children. Avoid sugary drinks like soda, gator ade, kool aid and juice drinks.
Print this out so you’ll have this nearby when you are planning your meals and go grocery shopping. But as you can see there’s not much to remember just make sure your child eats a variety of colors. That their plate is made up of half fruits and vegetables and half proteins and grains and that they have something from the dairy group. Making sure you control portion size and allow them to self regulate themselves is also on the list.