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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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HEALTHFUL EATING AND CHILDREN

Good nutrition fuels children's behavior and attitudes.

The news is out--one out of every four American children is overweight.

      The good news is, parents can help their children maintain a healthy weight by encouraging physical activity and healthful eating habits.

Maintain a Healthy weight--increase physical activity

     Children, like adults, gain weight when they eat more calories than they use during daily activities. But unlike adults, growing children should not restrict calories to achieve a healthy weight. Restricting calories and nutrients can retard or stunt growth and impair learning. Instead, children should focus on increasing physical activity and eating appropriate amounts of a variety of foods.

Physical activity--health benefits galore

     Physical activity provides important health benefits, including weight management, increased strength and coordination, and stress reduction. Physical activity also builds self-confidence by helping children feel good about themselves. Regular physical activity, continued throughout life, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Physical fitness--fun for everyone

     To get children off the couch and onto the playing field, parents can involve the whole family in physical activity. After all, every family member can benefit from daily physical activity. If your family has not been active, introduce activity gradually. For example, you can start by taking relaxing family walks after dinner.

     Parents can encourage children to engage in safe free-play after school with friends, or join school or community athletic teams. Help children select activities that focus on fun since they are more likely to be active if the experience is enjoyable.

Other ways to increase your children's physical activity:
bulletPlan family hikes, nature walks, camping and canoeing trips.
bulletTeach kids to swim and bicycle at a young age.
bulletSubstitute physical activity for television watching.
bulletHave children help with chores, such as gardening, shoveling snow, and raking leaves.

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Healthful eating tastes good--make it fun

     Parents can "turn kids on" to healthful eating by emphasizing fun and family involvement. Let children help with food shopping and preparation--it's always more fun to eat what you have helped select and prepare. Keep food varied and interesting, providing children with an array of fruits and vegetables of different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, such as kiwis, oranges, red peppers, and broccoli.

     Look to the Nutrition Facts information on food products to help make healthful choices. If your child selects a high-fat food, offer lower-fat choices later in the day or over the next few days. Remember, all foods can be part of a healthful eating pattern.

Choose foods from the five food groups

Nutrition experts recommend eating food from each of these five food groups daily to ensure a balanced high-carbohydrate, low-fat eating pattern:

 6-11 servings of Grains (Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta); one serving = 1 slice bread, 3/4 cup dry cereal, or 1/2 cup rice or pasta

2-3 servings of Fruits; one serving = 1 apple, 1/2 cup canned or chopped fruit, or 3/4 cup juice

 3-5 servings of Vegetables; one serving = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables or 1/2 cup cooked or chopped raw vegetables

2-3 servings of Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese; one serving = 1 cup milk or yogurt or 1 1/2 ounces cheese

 2-3 servings of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, and Eggs; one serving = 2-3 ounces of meat, poultry or fish, 1/2 cup cooked beans, or 1 egg

     Grains, fruits, and vegetables supply the body with carbohydrates, the body's preferred source of energy for physical activity. A teaspoon of sugar sprinkled onto cereals and fruits, such as oatmeal or grapefruit, can enhance the taste of these healthful foods that children might not otherwise try. 

     To get your children to eat more vegetables, try adding green pepper and fresh tomato slices to pizza and serving carrot sticks with their favorite sandwich. For meat and dairy choices, select lean meats, poultry without skin, and low-fat dairy products.

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We are all role models to those around us

Be a role model

     Children learn from their parents. If you engage in daily physical activity and enjoy a variety of healthful foods, your children are more likely to follow suit. Encouraging physical activity and healthful eating habits during childhood helps build these habits for a lifetime.

For more information

 The American Dietetic Association/National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Consumer Nutrition Hot Line.
or food and nutrition information or for a referral to a registered dietitian in your area, call 800/366-1655. For customized answers to your food and nutrition questions by a registered dietitian, call 900/CALL-AN-RD (900/225-5267). The cost of the call will be $1.95 for the first minute and $.95 for each additional minute.

The Sugar Association, Inc.

For free leaflets on children's nutrition and fitness, such as "Make Snacking a Healthy Habit" and "Breakfast on the Run," mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Sugar Association, 1101 15th Street, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005.

Nutrition Action Plans

American Dietetic Nutrition Fact Sheet

Visit A.G.D.  

For an article about how to have family meals "Family Meals Nourish Body And Soul" Family Meals Nourish Body And Soul" 

Click here to receive a free quarterly government update on Dietary Supplements/Food Labeling Electronic Newsletter.

Nutrition Food Pictures

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          If you have any questions please e-mail me at: drdpeterson@scottsbluff.net
                                                                                 308-436-3491 Office number

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
This site is privately and personally sponsored, funded and supported by Dr. Peterson.  We have no outside funding.
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