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Step One: Understanding Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition means that your child is getting all of the nutrients and vitamins
that they need to grow strong and healthy. They need their calories and nutrients
to be dispersed throughout the day, which means that skipping breakfast, having
a candy bar for lunch and then having a healthy dinner isn’t giving them what
they need to perform well during the day. Instead, offer your children 4-5 smaller
meals each day or three main meals with two healthy snacks.
The average child age 4-8 needs about 1300 calories a day. The average 9-13
year old needs about 1700 calories a day and children 14-18 need about 2000
depending on their activity levels and development. These calories can be broken
down into three main meals consisting of a lean protein, vegetable or fruit, and a
carbohydrate.
That’s not easy to do, many parents protest. My child is choosy about what they
eat. That may be true but no child has ever let itself starve. Children, how ever
picky they may seem at the dinner table, will eat healthy foods if they’re placed in
front of them. More importantly, healthy food doesn’t need to taste bad.
For example, a healthy breakfast consisting of a bowl of low sugar cereal with low
fat milk, a banana, and a glass of juice is a fantastic start to your child’s day. Mix
it up and offer a whole grain frozen waffle with fruit, maple syrup and a glass of
low fat milk and your child has the fiber, protein, and fruit serving that they need
to start their day on the right foot.
The federal government’s website on nutrition offers a food pyramid just for
children and a PDF that outlines portion size by age. It’s a handy resource that
you can print out and refer to as you you’re your family’s meals.
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