There are guidelines created by the USDA “MyPyramid” which provide nutritional programs for children attending preschool. The specific program used by the USDA focuses on incorporating all of the food groups into each meal plan daily. Encouragement of healthy eating has been on an upward rise for the past few years. Instilling healthy eating routines early can help children to maintain eating habits beneficial to proper growth and development. Healthy eating starts at home and should be reinforced in preschool.
Daily Food Groups and Servings
When creating meal plans for toddlers all 5 food groups are important for a well rounded nutritional diet. Every food group helps to add nutrients needed for children’s growth and health. Below is a list of the five food groups for preschool students and their benefits.
Bread & Grains:
Six serving per day. The best type of breads to consume are whole wheat and multigrain. Whole grains are an important source of fibers, B vitamins and minerals.
Three to four servings per day. Dairy especially milk is a great source of calcium necessary for strong teeth and bones. Two cups of milk preferably low fat should be consumed by younger children. Dairy also helps maintain bone bass and is the number one source of calcium for most American diets.
Two servings per day. The nutritional benefits of fruit are endless and important for younger children. Fruit also offers a sweet alternative to high sugary unhealthy snacks. Fruits are low in fat and high in vitamins B and C. Also many fruits help fortify a healthy immune system.
Three servings each day. Getting your leafy greens helps build muscles like pop-eye the sailor, or at least thats what we like to tell our little ones. Eating three servings each day helps children receive adequate supplies of dietary fibers, folate, vitamins A and C.
Meats, Beans & Nuts:
Two servings each day. Meats are the main source of protein for most American diets. Children should eat at least one serving of meat per day while getting the other serving from beans or nuts. Some of the common health benefits in meat include most B vitamins, Iron, Zinc, Selenium and other minerals. The protein and iron also helps muscles.
Toddlers diets should be low in sodium and high saturated fats in order to lower the risk of cholesterol or high blood pressure. Children’s total fat intake each day should stay under 35%. It’s best to eat “healthy fats,” which include fish, nuts and most vegetable oils. Replacing unhealthy snacks with fruits, nuts, and low fat dairy products will help your little one gain benefits of a well rounded diet. These benefits include better sleep, clear mind, a strong body and healthy weight.