Kid Nutrition: Daily Food Nutrition Requirements

22 Feb


By Veronica M. Benson

food pyramid2



Healthy Eating With Young Children


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1. Offer your child foods  from each food group every day.

Grain group: 4-5 ounces a day.  What counts as 1 ounce?

1/2 cup cooked cereal (oatmeal or grits). rice or pasta

1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal (toasted O’s, whole wheat flakes, etc.)

1 (6-inch) tortilla


Vegetable group: 1  1/2 cups a day.  What counts as 1 cup?

1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables

2 cups raw leafy greens or lettuce

1/2 cup cooked dry beans or peas

Offer a dark green or yellow-orange Vitamin A vegetable every other day like carrots, broccoli, spinach, squash or sweet potato.


Fruit group: 1 1/2 cups a day. What counts as 1 cup?

1 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit

1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, prunes, etc.)

1/2 cup of 100% juice


food pic 1





Milk group: 2 cups a day. What counts as 1 cup? 

8 oz milk (2% or 1% or non-fat)

1 1/2 oz slice of cheese

1 cup of yogurt (8 oz container)



Meat group: 3-4 ounces a day. What counts as 1 ounce?

1/4 cup cooked beans

1 egg

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds

1 ounce cooked meat, poultry or fish



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2. Making and eating meals together can be great family fun.

At the store, let your child help choose which vegetables or fruits to buy.

Allow your child to help you prepare foods.

Let your child help you scrub vegetables, set the table, place things in trash, etc.

Eat meals with your child.

Keep the TV off during mealtimes.

3.  Is your child a picky eater?

Keep offering a variety of foods and let your child eat the amount he wants.

Try small but frequent meals and snacks.

It often takes several tries before a child likes a new food. Offer it again.

If your child loses interest or plays with his food, quietly but firmly take it away.


4. Keeping mealtimes pleasant

An overtired child rarely eats well.

Allow enough time for unhurried eating, about 30 minutes.

Never use food as a bribe or reward.

Expect new foods to be liked or disliked. Stay positive.

Introduce new foods along with your child’s favorite foods.


Follow These Important Tips:

Offer about 16 ounces of milk each day.

Limit 100% juice to about 4-6 ounces each day.

Is your child thirsty? Offer water often throughout the day.

Limit the following foods: sweet desserts, fruit drinks, sugar coated cereals, chips and candy.

As a parent you should decide when and what to serve your child. However, let your child decide how much to eat.

Serve whole grain products three times a day, such as whole wheat bread, oats, barley, whole grain cold cereals, popcorn, baked tortilla corn chips etc.

Balance the food your child eats with regular physical activity.


Water is Most Important


Have you ever been in a situation as an adult where you were thirsty and water wasn’t immediately at your disposal? Think of how much more this applies to children. Small children and even those who are in school all day. Although water fountains are available when they are allowed access to them, there is no way that they can sip enough water from it to fulfill full water requirements during those 6 hours a day. The milk they may be served during lunch suffices as a thirst quencher but maybe even add to the reason of thirst. Human experience, common sense. Common sense isn’t so common for some people after all. There is nothing like WATER.


As an adult I am reminded to always see things from a child’s point of view when dealing with children because I remember being one. Children should always have access to water. From the time they awake until after dinner or dessert. Water should be the last thing a child should have before going to bed. As it helps with digestion and is good for your body and heart. Not their dinner or some other solids. Therefore there should be enough time for digesting food and bathroom breaks before a child goes to sleep. Dinnertime and bedtime should be at least 1- 2 hours apart. 


The water requirement for children:

5- 8 years old is at least 5 glasses a day.

6 -12 year olds 7 glasses a day

13+ 8-10 glasses a day

More water when exercising or on a hot day.

Dehydration/ not having enough fluid in your body, can cause headache and fatigue, make you feel cranky and affect your concentration.


When I pick up my son from school, most of the time the first thing he says is “I’m thirsty” or “I’m hungry.” Because of this pattern, I would usually grab him a bottle of water to have with me upon dismissal or send him to the water fountain. Sometimes I’ll have his after school snack or just have him wait until we get home to have a snack or even dinner if it’s already prepared. Then homework.

Most schools serve children at least 2 meals each day. Breakfast and lunch. Unless they eat breakfast at home in the morning, which I prefer (a hot homemade breakfast with love or a bowl or two of cereal with something on the side) and bring their lunch from home as well. So I believe dinner should always be the meal to fulfill the remaining requirements of food for the day. A snack and dessert thrown in the mix as well. Depending on the serving size, they may eat more/less afterwards, before the night is over.


Water can be made readily accessible by filling water bottles with water and putting them  in the refrigerator. Showing children how to get water from the sink themselves or keeping bottled water within reach and letting children know they can get a bottle whenever they want, just as long as they finish one before getting another. In other cases when children prefer to have juice and different beverages rather than drinking water, knowing they need water, water should then be made the only option for liquids.


Raising kids doesn’t only consists of perfecting one area, although nutrition and health are two of the most important!





(Some information provided and Developed by: Near North Health Service Corporation)


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