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A Parent's Guide to Nutrition for Kids - Part 1

Lesson 1: Blueprint for a Healthy Diet
-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

Believe it or not, the nutritional needs of children have not changed in the last 20 years. However, the world they live in certainly has. It is quite a different childhood experience for kids and teens, with fast food restaurants on every corner, big-gulp colas, 50 or more TV channels to surf, text messaging, mall hopping, video games, and ipods. It is important that we update our parental nutrition lessons to help them form the best possible eating habits for life in the 21st century. 

Blueprint for a Healthy Diet 
The food pyramid is still the best blueprint for building a balanced diet. At www.MyPyramid.gov, you can obtain a personalized nutrition plan for each member of the family. A healthy diet will help your children build bodies that go the distance. Here is what they need most each day.


 Food Group

 Serving Size

# of Servings 

A Serving Looks Like...

Grains 

bread, cereal, rice, pasta

*Go for whole grains at least 1/2 of the time.

- 1 slice bread
- 1 oz cereal
- 1/2 cup pasta, rice, grits, hot cereal
- 1/2 English muffin, bun, bagel
- 1 tortilla
- 1 small muffin

Kids 6-12
6-9 servings

Teen Girls
6-9 servings

Teen Boys
9-11 servings

1/2 cup = tennis ball

1 oz. = a large fist

 Vegetables

 - 1/2 cup juice

- 1/2 cup cooked

- 1 cup raw, leafy

 Kids 6-12
3-4 servings

Teen Girls
3-4 servings

Teen Boys
4-5 servings

 1/2 cup = tennis ball

1 cup = a large fist

 Fruits

- 1/2 cup juice
- 1 medium fruit
- 1 cup berries
- 1/2 cup canned 
- 1/2 grapefruit
- 1/4 cantaloupe
- 1/4 cup dried

 Kids 6-12
2-3 servings

Teen Girls
2-3 servings

Teen Boys
3-4 servings

 1/4 cup = golf ball

1/2 cup = tennis ball

1 cup = a large fist

 Dairy Products

- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 oz cheese
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese, pudding, frozen yogurt

 Kids 6-12
2-3 servings

Teen Girls
3+ servings

Teen Boys
3+ servings

 1 oz cheese = 4 dice

 Meats & Beans

- 2-3 oz cooked, lean meat or fish
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup nuts, seeds
- 1/2 cup cooked peas or beans

 Kids 6-12
2-2.5 servings

Teen Girls
2-2.5 servings

Teen Boys
2-3 servings

 3 oz meat = deck of cards

2 tbsp = ping pong ball

1/4 cup = golf ball

1/2 cup = tennis ball


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Member Comments About this Article
"You can find information about serving sizes for children ages 1-5 in our Feeding Tips for Toddlers: Portions, Serving Sizes, and More! article.
" -- TONKA_14
"mypyramid.gov has the recommended servings for toddlers, as well as pregnant and lactating women. There are sample menus as well on that website." -- TRENAI
"Hello, I think this is helpful, but it will be better to have an example of what to serve on a tipical day....what for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the snacks....like a week example of a healthy eating." -- BONNIEAXEL79
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About The Author
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

 


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