One of the big questions or threads that I have seen coming out of my last post is the question of how do I know as a parent if my child is eating enough and getting enough nutrition wise. There is lots of advice out there about what is nutritious and what is not, but very little on how much of this nutritious food to serve your kids.
I am not one to obsess over this stuff, though Lord knows I do enough obsessing over other things that I can completely understand where people are coming from. If my children are healthy and growing I don’t worry.
As I said in my previous post, I am NOT talking about children who have allergies or medical issues which require special feeding practices. I am not the expert on those sorts of things, nor am I the expert on your child. I do know that engaging in a battle of wills with your child on anything, but most especially food, is never a good thing.
I do have one child who is extremely skinny. The funny thing is that he is far and away the best eater out of my children. He doesn’t like sweets, refuses to eat fast food, and believes that blue and red food dye make him misbehave (which they very well might, who am I to argue with him) I am not concerned, but because he is also my ADHD child who takes medication that can supress a person’s appetetite I have to keep an eye on his food intake so that the psychiatrist doesn’t become overly concerned. Every night before bed he has a huge Carnation milkshake made with half and half and added protien powder. The thing must have 500+ calories. I swear I gain weight just looking at him prepare it.
The thing is that he looks like kids used to look back when I was growing up. Children are fatter now. (From 1980 to 2002, obesity has doubled in adults and overweight prevalence has tripled in children and adolescents.) It is hard not to think of your child as being underweight when you are comparing them to the majority who are overweight.
I am going to write something very controversial. Get rid of juice. It is not nutritious. It is filled with sugar, fructose IS sugar. It is bad for your children’s teeth to be bathed in sugar all day long. And it is filled with empty, yet filling calories. Unless you are fresh squeezing your own juice, don’t give it to your kids. Water is the best thing to keep your body hydrated. How many of us as adults talk about trying to drink enough water? Might as well make water drinking a habit that is ingrained in them.
I think that we, myself included, have a distorted view of the Food Pyramid and nutrition. When it talks about servings, that does not mean as much as you can eat in a meal. Serving sizes are actaully quite a bit smaller that you would realize.
Mypyramid.gov is an excellent place to start. You can plug in your child’s age and get a pyramid of the number of servings (and more importantly the SIZE of those servings) that your child should get in a day.
I have heard that a good rule of thumb for young children, ages 6 and under I am going to say, is to think of their serving sizes as 1/4 to 1/2 of adult sized portions. So if an adult sized portion of meat is the size of a small deck of cards, picture in your mind how small 1/4 of that is. That is pretty small! The preschool sized portion of eggs… is 1/2 of one egg. You can see how easy it can be to have them reach 3 servings of meat when the portions are that small.
Vegetable serving… 1/4 of a cup. That is an incredibly small amount.
It has also been my experience that children are creatures of habit. Once they like something they will eat it and eat for months on end until one day they never want to see it again. EVER. My oldest son did this with Peanut butter and Fluff sandwiches. He ate two every single day for lunch for probably five years. Then one day he said he didn’t really like them anymore and he hasn’t had one since. So as you are making those chicken nuggets for yet another lunch, have hope that one day they will want something different. probably right after you found a great deal and stocked up on a year’s supply of them.