Good Nutritional Food For Children Is Essential

Finding good nutritional food for a child can be easy. The rule in feeding children is keeping it simple, the quicker, and simpler the better. Find out how.

The food pyramid - it is everywhere - on the cereal box at the supermarket. Unfortunately, your child's preferred diet more closely resembles an inverted pyramid. You stare perplexed at the USDA nutrition guidelines, which call for five to six servings of bread, cereal or grains per day, and three to four servings each of fruit and vegetables. How is it possible to fit that much food into one small child, especially one who will not eat anything green? First, remember that a child-sized portion is not that large. A serving of bread/cereal/grains can mean half a bagel or half a cup of pasta. A serving of fruit is a half cup of four ounces.

Still, the problem of actually getting the food into the child remains. The most important rule in feeding children is keeping it simple- the quicker, and simpler the better.

When it comes to getting kids to eat healthy foods, think raw. Consider the texture of your favorite vegetables when cooked. Now consider it from a child's perspective - soft, squishy, slimy. Vegetables look and feel more appealing in their natural state. Here are some favorites, and tips for serving them:

Cucumber should be peeled and sliced into circles, rather than lengthwise. The seeds are too 'slimy' when presented as a spear. Many children like cherry tomatoes, but these should be sliced or even quartered, so as not to present a choking hazard. Besides, you know what happens when you bit into a cherry tomato - unless you want to scrape seeds off the ceiling, cut them in half. Another popular choice is carrot sticks. If you are serving to younger children try shredding a raw carrot. Sliced peppers make a refreshing snack. Children especially like red peppers as these are sweeter. Finally, those summer perennials, zucchini and summer squash can be sliced and served raw.

Rule two - keep it separate. Remember, the best way to get children to eat is to keep it the food simple - the less preparation the food goes through the better. Avoid casseroles and stews. Soups will work for many children, because they can pick out the bits they do not like. An ideal meal would include a piece of meat (or an alternative protein) and two vegetables (or one vegetable and one fruit). None of the different foods should be touching.

Rule Three - Add inducements. Young children like to dip. Try offering them something healthy as a dip, such as plain yogurt, apple sauce or peanut butter. When all else fails, offer condiments. Ketchup can be served with anything, even green beans. Some children also like mustard, which expands the condiment horizon. You can offer yellow mustard, honey mustard, whole grain mustard and more.

Rule Four - Children need to eat in between meals. Make their snacks a healthy choice. Snack food does not have to be junk food. Here are some alternatives to cookies and milk which will help you reach the food pyramid targets for the grains and cereal group:

Many children refuse to eat pasta in sauce, but they often will eat it plain, with just a little butter. Try serving it cold as a snack. Your child will probably eat it like it is popcorn. Hard-boiled eggs are an easy source of protein - and you can make them ahead to have on hand. Your child will probably eat only the white of the egg, although some children will only eat the yellow. The cereal manufacturers like to remind us that cereal is not just for breakfast anymore, and they are correct. Cereals which are low and sugar and high in fiber make a nutritious snack, even without milk. Even lightly sweetened cereals are some healthier alternatives than a bag of potato chips. For a variation on the old stand-by, crackers and cheese, try serving shredded cheese. Also, vary the type of cracker offered.

Healthy and happy meal times are possible if you remember to keep it simple and keep it separate. A balanced diet covers the child's entire day, so make snack time part of the food pyramid, too.

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