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Feeding Your School Age Child

Your child's nutrition is important to her overall health. Proper nutrition can also prevent many medical problems, including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to her full potential.

The best nutrition advise to keep your adolescent healthy includes encouraging her to:
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Balance the food you eat with physical activity
  • Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits
  • Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
  • Choose a diet moderate in sugars and salt

Choose a diet that provides enough calcium and iron to meet their growing body's requirements. You can also help promote good nutrition by setting a good example. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise should be a regular part of your family's life. It is much easier if everyone in the house follows these guidelines, than if your child has to do it alone. You should also buy low-calorie and lowfat meals, snacks and desserts, low fat or skim milk and diet drinks. Avoid buying high calorie desserts or snacks, such as snack chips, regular soft drinks or regular ice cream.

The Food Pyramid was designed by the US Dept. of Agriculture to promote healthy nutrition in children over two years of age. It is meant to be a general guide to daily food choices. The main emphasis of the Food Guide Pyramid is on the five major food groups, all of which are required for good health. It also emphasizes that foods that include a lot of fats, oils and sweets should be used very sparingly.

The Food Guide Pyramid shows a range of servings for each food group. How much you actually eat depends on your age and activity level. Schoolage boys and girls require about 1600 to 2400 calories each day, depending on their age and activity level. Once they hit their growth spurt, girls require an additional 200 calories and boys 500 calories. School age children will therefore require between the low and middle range of servings. Children who are overweight and dieting should at least eat the lowest range of servings.

When determining how many servings to eat, it is important to look at the serving size. Larger portions should count as more than one serving, and smaller portions will count as only a part of a serving.
Food Guide Pyramid

Fats, Oils and Sweets
No more than 30% of your diet should come from fats. For a 1600 calorie diet, that would equal 53g of fat each day and for a 2200 calorie diet, 73g of fat each day. The type of fat that you eat is also important. Saturated fats in foods such as meats, dairy products, coconut, palm and palm kernal oil, raise cholesterol more than unsaturated fats, which are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, or polyunsaturated fats in safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils. Limit saturated fats to no more than 10% of daily calories.

Sugars supply a large amount of calories, with little nutritional value. They include white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, honey and molasses and foods like candy, soft drinks, jams, and jellies.

Selection tips:

  • use lean meats and skim or lowfat dairy products
  • use unsaturated vegetable oils and margarines that list a liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient on the label
  • read the nutrition label on foods to check for the amount and type of fat it includes
  • limit foods that contain a large amount of saturated fats
  • limit foods high in sugar and avoid adding extra sugar to your foods
Butter, margarine, 1tsp 4
Mayonnaise, 1tbs 11
Salad dressing, 1tbs 7
Sour cream, 2tbs 6
Cream cheese, 1oz 10
Chocolate bar, 1oz 9

Milk, Yogurt and Cheese
Dairy products provide protein, vitamins and minerals and are an excellent source of calcium. Your schoolage child should have 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt and cheese each day.

Selection tips:
  • Choose skim milk and nonfat yogurt
  • Avoid high fat cheese and ice cream
Skim milk, 1 cup 1 Trace
Nonfat yoghurt, 8oz 1 Trace
Lowfat milk, 1 cup 1 5
Whole milk, 1 cup 1 8
Chocolate milk, 2%, 1 cup 1 5
Lowfat yoghurt, 1 cup 1 4
Process cheese, 2 oz 1 18
Mozzarella, part skin 1 - 1/2 oz 1 7
Cottage Cheese, 1/2 cup 1/4 5
Ice cream, 1/2 cup 1/3 7
Ice milk, 1/2 cup 1/3 3
Frozen yoghurt, 1/2 cup 1/2 2

Meat, Poultry, Fish , Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
Foods in this group provide protein, and vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron and zinc. You should have 2 to 3 servings of foods from this group each day, including the equivalent of 5 to 7 ounces of lean meat.
Selection tips:
  • A serving from this food group can include 2-3 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish, which may be an average hamburger or medium chicken breast half.
  • Choices with the least fat include lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, and dry beans and peas.
  • Prepare meats in lowfat ways, by trimming away fat, and broiling, roasting, or boiling rather than frying.
  • Remember that nuts and seed are high in fat, and egg yolks are high in cholesterol, so you should eat them in moderation.
Lean meat, poultry, fish 3 oz 6
Ground beef, lean 3 oz 16
Chicken, with skin, fried 3 oz 13
Bologna, 2 slices 1 oz 16
Egg, 1 1 oz 5
Dry beans and peas, 1/2 cup 1 oz Trace
Peanut butter, 2 tbs 1 oz 16
Nuts, 1/3 cup 1 oz 22
Servings = ounces of meat these items count as.

Vegetables supply you with vitamins, including vitamin A and C, and folate, minerals, such as iron and magnesium, and fiber. Plus they are low in fat. You should have 2 to 4 servings of vegetables each day.

Selection tips:
  • You should eat a variety of vegetables to provide you with all of the different nutrients that they supply, including dark green leafy vegetables, deep yellow vegetables, starchy vegetables (potatoes, corn peas), legumes (navy, pinto and kidney beans), and other vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green beans).
  • Do not add a lot of fat to the vegetables you eat, by avoiding added toppings, such as butter, mayonnaise, and salad dressings.
Vegs, cooked, 1/2 cup 1 Trace
Vegs, leafy, raw, 1 cup 1 Trace
Vegs, nonleafy, raw, 1/2 cup 1 Trace
Potatoes, scalloped, 1/2 cup 1 4
Potato salad, 1/2 cup 1 8
French fries, 10 1 8

Fruits and 100% fruit juices provide Vitamin A and C and potassium. They are also low in fat and sodium. You should have 2-4 servings of fruit each day.
Selection tips:
  • Eat fresh fruits and 100 % fruit juices and avoid canned fruit in heavy syrups and sweetened fruit juices. 100% fruit juice may substitute for half of your child's recommended servings of fruit each day.
  • Eat whole fruits.
  • Eat citrus fruits, melons, and berries, which are high in Vitamin C.
Whole fruit 1 Trace
Fruit, raw or uncanned, 1/2 cup 1 Trace
Fruit juice, unsweetened, 3/4 cup 1 Trace
Avocado, 1/4 whole 1 9

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta
Foods from this group provide complex carbohydrates (starches) and provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You need at least 6 to 11 servings of foods from this food group each day.

Selection tips:
  • Choose whole grain breads and cereals for added fiber.
  • Choose foods that are low in fat and sugars.
  • Avoid adding calories and fat to foods in this group by not adding spreads or toppings high in fat.
Bread, 1 slice 1 1
Hamburger roll 2 2
Tortilla 1 3
Rice, Pasta, 1/2 cup 1 Trace
Breakfast cereals, 1 oz 1 ?
Pancakes, 2 2 3
Croissant, 1 large 2 12
Doughnut, 1 medium 2 11
Danish, 1 medium 2 13
Cake frosted, 1 slice 1 13
Cookies, 2 medium 1 4

Calcium Requirements
Calcium is a mineral that is mostly present in your child's bones. Having a diet with foods that are high in calcium to meet daily requirements is necessary for the development of strong bones. It is also an important way to prevent the development of osteoporosis in adults.

School age children require about 800 mg of calcium each day. Once they begin puberty, their calcium requirements will increase to about 1200 mg each day. See the table below for the calcium content of common foods and check the nutrition label to choose foods high in calcium when you prepare your families diet. Also choose foods that are fortified with calcium.

Milk, whole or lowfat 1 cup 300 mg
White beans 1/2 cup 113 mg
Broccoli, cooked 1/2 cup 35 mg
Broccoli, raw 1 cup 35 mg
Cheddar cheese 1.5 oz 300 mg
Yogurt, lowfat 8 oz 300 mg
Orange juice, calcium fortified 1 cup 300 mg
Orange, medium 1 40 - 50 mg
Sweet potatoes, mashed 1/2 cup 44 mg

Iron Requirements
Iron is another mineral that is important for your child's growth. Having a diet with foods that are high in iron to meet daily requirements is necessary for the development of strong muscles and production of blood.

Adolescents require about 10 to 12 mg of iron each day. See the table below for the iron content of common foods and check the nutrition label to choose foods high in iron when you prepare your families diet. Also choose foods that are fortified with iron (cereals, bread, rice, and pasta).

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