Eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and is something that should be taught to children at a young age. The following are some general guidelines for helping your child eat healthy. It is important to discuss your child’s diet with your child’s health care provider before making any dietary changes or placing your child on a diet.
- Eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks.
- Increase fiber in the diet and decrease the use of salt.
- Drink water. Try to avoid drinks and juices that are high in sugar.
- Children under the age of 2 need fats in their diet to help with the growth of their nervous system. Do not place these children on a low fat diet without talking with your child’s health care provider.
- Eat balanced meals.
- When cooking for your child, try to bake or broil instead of frying.
- Decrease your child’s sugar intake.
- Eat fruit or vegetables for a snack.
- Decrease the use of butter and heavy gravies.
- Eat more lean chicken, fish, and beans for protein
Making healthy food choices
The Choose My Plate icon is a guideline to help you and your child eat a healthy diet. My Plate can help you and your child eat a variety of foods while encouraging the right amount of calories and fat.
The USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have prepared the plate to guide parents in selecting foods for children age 2 and older.
The My Plate icon is divided into five food group categories, emphasizing the nutritional intake of the following:
- Grains. Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
- Vegetables. Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of colorful vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
- Fruits. Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut up, or pureed.
- Dairy. Milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, as well as those that are high in calcium.
- Protein. Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine—choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
Oils are not a food group, yet some, such as nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet. Animal fats are solid fats and should be avoided.
Exercise and everyday physical activity should also be included with a healthy dietary plan. For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com/HealthyKids.
Tags: healthy eating, nutrition for children
If your child is complaining of ear pain, s/he may have an ear infection. Ear infections are relatively common in kids; around half of infants are diagnosed with an ear infection by the time they are one-year-old. If children aren’t old enough to speak yet, they tend to become cranky or tug at their ear when they have an ear infection. They are commonly preceded by a cold or teething.
Here are some other symptoms your child may exhibit:
- Interrupted sleep
- Cough when laying down
- Yellow or white discharge from the ear
- Decreased appetite
- Difficulty hearing quiet sounds
- Balance problems
The best way to treat an ear infection is up to your child’s doctor. If the situation is serious and the doctor is worried about lasting complications, then s/he will likely prescribe antibiotics right away. Otherwise, doctors are hesitant to give antibiotics because the infection usually clears up on its own. Antibiotics only provide minimal pain and fever relief, and take about 24-48 hours to take effect. Doctors are also concerned about the effects of repeated antibiotic use, as there are an increasing number of bacteria becoming resistant to the medication.
Your best bet after you notice the onset of some of the symptoms is to treat and monitor your child’s symptoms at home to make them more comfortable.
- Pain relievers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) will reduce your child’s pain and discomfort. This is especially a good idea before bed time.
- Putting a warm cloth or heating pad on the child’s ear can help with pain relief.
- Doctors many times prescribe eardrops that will help with the earache. It’s best to consult your doctor before using eardrops, particularly if your child has tubes in his/her ears.
- Resting will also help your child’s body to beat the infection.
If your child’s symptoms get worse or persist for days, it is best to call your child’s doctor. Fort HealthCare’s Pediatrics and Integrated Family Care team is here to ensure your child gets better in no time!
Tags: ear infection, ear pain, hearing, symptoms, treatment
In this age of taco palaces, microwave meals and energy bars, some kids probably think the food pyramid is some ancient Egyptian relic. Overstated? Not necessarily, when you consider that almost 17% of kids ages 2 to 19 are obese; that diabetes, a debilitating disease strongly linked to obesity and inactivity, is rising among children and teens; and that by age 10, most overweight kids already have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
Ideas for happy meals
Nutritionists recommend these steps for getting your child on course for a lifetime of better eating habits:
- Trim the meat. Sure, it’s protein-packed, but red meat is also a culprit in heart disease and some cancers. Better to offer it as a side dish of 3 ounces or less and make fruits and vegetables the main course.
- Serve less. Watch portion sizes closely so kids don’t consume excess calories. Rule of thumb: Your preschooler’s portion should be two-thirds the size of a regular portion.
- Play traffic cop. Use a traffic-light model for your kids’ diet: Serve “green-light” foods like whole grains, rice, pasta, fruits, vegetables, peanut butter and low-fat dairy often; serve “yellow-light” items like pancakes, lean meat, poultry, baked goods and jams in moderation; and serve “red-light” foods like doughnuts, bacon, French fries, butter, junk foods, sweets and soda rarely.
The pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners at Fort HealthCare Internal Medicine & Pediatrics recommend the “5-3-2-1-almost none” model for children’s wellness:
- 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- 3 structured meals daily: Eat breakfast, less fast food and more meals prepared at home
- 2 hours or less of television or video games daily
- 1 hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily
- Almost none sugar-sweetened drinks
Tags: french fries are not vegetables, healthy eating, kids and healthy eating, nutrition for children, pediatrics