I discussed in my last post how important it is to follow the division of responsibility when feeding your kids. Your child should decide whether to eat, and how much to eat, of what you have made available. So how can you ensure that your child is getting needed nutrients if she refuses some foods all the time, and you are not supposed to force her to eat? And if your child gets to buy dihydrocodeine online uk choose how much to eat, then what about the serving sizes recommended in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, or the American MyPlate?
The answer is to have a basic knowledge of healthy eating principles, and to provide structure for your kids. That is, you need to provide regular meals and snacks, containing a variety and balance of foods.
Canada, the U.S and the U.K are among many countries that have produced their own nutrition guides to educate their citizens about healthy eating. Health Canada developed their most recent version of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating in 2007, aimed at Canadians aged 2 and up. Dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers under 2 are different than those found in Canada’s Food Guide: more on this is another post. The U.S version, developed by the US Department of Agriculture, recently changed from “My Pyramid” to “MyPlate”. The U.K’s version is the “Eatwell plate”.
The food guides from different countries have some differences, but they are all similar in their recommendations to promote balance and variety in eating. They all divide foods into groups: fruits and vegetables, grains, milk and dairy, and meat and protein. They all promote more fruits, vegetables, and grain, in particular whole grains, and recommend limiting foods high in fat or sugar. They all give examples of foods from each food group, define serving sizes, and give numbers of servings recommended for males and females at different ages and activity levels. The goal is to give the general population an idea of what types of foods to eat, and in what amounts, in order to achieve optimal health.
In general, fruits and vegetables are a major source of various vitamins and fibre. Grains contain high amounts of the B vitamins and fibre. Milk and dairy contain high amounts of calcium (and sometimes vitamin D). Meat is a great source of both protein and iron. Aiming to consume foods from each food group in recommended amounts should provide a healthy balance of all these very important nutrients.
Canada’s Food Guide has specific recommendations for young children: they need regular small meals and snacks and their fat intake should not be restricted as it is for older children and adults.
Recommendations for children (Source: Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating)
Food Group Suggested servings age 2-3 Suggested servings age 4-8 Suggested servings age 9-13 Examples of one serving Fruits and Vegetables 4 5 6 ½ cup vegetable 1 piece fruit 1 cup leafy salad Grains 3 4 6 1 slice bread ½ cup rice ½ cup cooked pasta Dairy 2 2 3-4 1 cup milk ¾ cup yogurt 50 g cheese Meat and Protein 1 1 1-2 ½ cup lean meat ¾ cup cooked beans 2 eggs
While it’s good to have an understanding of healthy eating principles, we need to remember that this is a guideline only. It’s a good idea to have something from each food group at each meal, and to aim for more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and less foods with added sugars and fats. However, taking these guidelines too literally could lead to pressuring your children to eat more of certain foods and less of others, causing tension at mealtimes. If your child is given regular meals and snacks made up of a variety and balance of foods, and you follow the division of responsibility in feeding, the variations in her intake will average out over time and provide all the energy and nutrients needed for proper growth and development. So the next time she eats just bread at supper, while ignoring her chicken and peas, take a deep breath and remember the big picture, instead of worrying so much about one meal.