Best & Worst Foods for Kids

From Eat This, Not That

A balanced diet can save your child from the obesity epidemic. Has anyone else been out and about lately and noticed how many children are overweight? I mean, really overweight. It is a bit frightening to think of what is going on inside these little bodies that are carrying weight around that does not belong on such a young person.

I recently stumbled on this article over at "Eat This, Not That", and had to share...

Just as the waistline of the average adult American is expanding at a belt-breaking rate, so too are those of this country's youth. It doesn't take a nutritionist to see that almost overnight we've gone from Generation X to Generation XXL. Recent research shows that kids today consume 180 calories more per day compared to kids in 1989, and all of those extra calories translate into some pretty staggering health consequences: 45 percent of this country's youth are overweight or obese, and the number of children burdened with diabetes has nearly quadrupled in the past thirty years.

Only 2 percent—that's right, 2 percent—of children between the ages of 2 and 19 are fulfilling their five main recommendations for a healthy diet laid out in the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid. That means a serious dearth of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins and an excess of sugar-filled packaged foods. In fact, a study of 4,000 children of that same age group showed that the overwhelming bulk of their nutrients come from cereals and fruit drinks. If kids are relying on Frosted Flakes and Hawaiian Punch for nutrition, we know there's a problem.

Legislation is in effect across the country to try to control the flow of food into our schools. But you can't afford to wait for a group of strangers in suits to pass laws that tell your kids how to eat. According to a report issued by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, a student who enters high school overweight has only a slight chance of reaching a normal weight by adulthood. High school freshmen at healthy weights, on the other hand, are four times as likely to stay slim as adults.

We all need help with our diets, especially kids. Use the guidelines and tips below to lay the foundation for a life of healthy eating.

Daily Needs*

2 to 3 years old:
Boys and Girls: 1,200 calories
1 cup of fruits
1.4 cups of vegetables
4 oz whole grains
3 oz meat and beans
2 cups milk
4 tsp oils

4 to 8 years old:
Girls: 1,500 calories
Boys: 1,700 calories

1.5 cups fruits
2 cups vegetables
5 oz grains
5 oz meat and beans
2.5 cups milk
4 tsp oils
1.5 cups fruits
2.5 cups vegetables
5.5 oz grains
5 oz meat and beans
3 cups milk
5 tsp oils

9 to 13 years old:
Girls: 1,900 calories
Boys: 2,100 calories

2 cups fruits
2.5 cups vegetables
6 oz grains
5.5 oz meat and beans
3 cups milk
5 tsp oils
2 cups fruits
3 cups vegetables
6.5 oz grains
6.5 oz meat and beans
3 cups milk
6 tsp oils

What are you doing in your home to help your kids maintain a healthy, active lifestyle? We have a rule as a family that we have to get our heart rate moving every day, even if it means just dancing around to music for 25 minutes.


  1. In our house, the rule is "5 fruits and vegetables a day," which usually works out to 3 fruits and 2 veggies for each kid.

    The best way to do that is to have a fruit at each meal, and a veggie at lunch and dinner.

    It certainly doesn't happen every day, but it's a good goal, and it helps keep my kids focused.

    Plus, they eat SO MUCH LESS than those food charts. So I focus more on the proportions of what we eat than the actual amounts.

  2. Oh! One more thing. I often wonder how regional the childhood obesity epidemic is. Where I live, in the Twin Cities, I see very few overweight kids. I just commented on that to my husband the other week. Maybe it's because overweight kids are more naturally going to be indoors, but my stomping grounds -- from school to preschool to swimming lessons to karate to the park -- don't show a lot of kids with weight to lose.

  3. We have good old oatmeal with raisins every morning, except Saturdays (which is pancakes). Fruit & veggies are always the option for snacks.
    We eat cheese & yogurt for our dairy, and we stick to water to drink. Juice is only allowed if we are guests and that is what the hosts serve, other wise we opt for water.
    Exercise is not an issue for my 2yo & 3yo. They are always moving, and prodding me to get into gear too, with "come on Mommy, let's play outside, let's go for a walk". Hopefully, as we make this a habit while they are young we can keep it when they are older.
    Oh ya, and we don't have a t.v.

  4. thank you for helping spread the word!

  5. We try to play outside for at least a few minutes every day and I found a great natural grocer that has really affordable produce so we do lots of fresh fruit for snacks.


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