Healthy diet today, to create a healthy citizen tomorrow.

Preschool-age children (ages 3 to 5) are still developing their eating habits and need encouragement to eat healthy meals and snacks. These children are eager to learn. They will often imitate eating behaviours of adults. They need supervision at mealtime as they are still working on chewing and swallowing skills.

These are some helpful mealtime hints for preschool-age children:
• Make meals, give regularly scheduled snacks, and limit unplanned eating.
• Discourage poor behaviour at mealtime. Focus on eating, not playing with food, or playing at the dinner table.
• Running or playing while eating can cause a child to choke. Have your child sit when eating.
• Keep offering a variety of foods. Have the attitude that, sooner or later, your child will learn to eat almost all foods.
• Make mealtime as pleasant as possible. Don’t put pressure on your child to eat. Don’t force your child to “clean” his or her plate. This may lead to overeating, which can cause your child to gain too much weight. Children will be hungry at mealtime if snacks have been limited during the day.
• Provide examples of healthy eating habits. Pre-schoolers copy what they see their parents doing. If you have unhealthy eating habits, your child will not learn to eat healthy.
• 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. Aim for mostly whole-grains.
• Vegetables. Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of colourful vegetables. These can include dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables
• Fruits. Any fruit or 100% 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.

So, start a healthy diet today, to create a healthy citizen tomorrow.

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