How to Make Sure Your Child Eats a Balanced and Healthy Diet

How to Make Sure Your Child Eats a Balanced and Healthy Diet

A balanced and healthy diet for your child is vital for their development. Here are pointers on their diet.

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Every child needs appropriate amounts of calories, proteins, minerals and vitamins to grow. The best way to ensure kids get what they need while maintaining a healthy weight is to provide a variety of nutritious food that are low in fat and sugar.

  • Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You can gradually build up to this amount. A good goal to try: eat fruit with each meal for a week.
  • Reduce fat. Opt for low-fat substitutes:
    • Low fat dairy - skim or 1% milk (after age 2) , cheese with 2 to 6 grams of fat per ounce
    • Lean meats and poultry -95% lean ground beef or turkey ; remove visible fat from meat; remove skin from poultry
    • Low -fat or fat-free salad dressings, mayonnaise and margarine
    • Desserts -angel food cake, low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, animal crackers, vanilla wafers, gingersnaps graham crackers
  • Eat sugary foods in moderation. If your child eats a healthy diet, one sweet a day is fine.
    • Drink water, skim or 1% milk (after age 2) instead of high calorie, sugary drinks
    • Check ingredients on nutrition labels. Foods with sugar listed as one of the first three or four ingredients may be high in sugar and should be eaten in moderation
  • Eat healthy snacks. Keep healthy foods on - hand for snacks. Good snack ideas include:
    • Fresh fruit
    • Low fat cheese with low fat crackers
    • Raw vegetables with low fat dip
    • Cereal with low fat milk
    • Graham crackers with low fat hot chocolate
    • Applesauce
  • Serve appropriate portions. Oversize portion often contributes to weight gain. To get an idea of the right portions to serve your child, it might help to visualize the appropriate serving size by comparing it to objects you're familiar with:


Average Serving Size

What it looks like


2-3 ounces

Deck of cards

Pasta or rice

1/2 cup

Tennis ball or ice cream scoop


1 slice

Computer disk

Peanut butter

2 tablespoons

Ping Pong ball


1/2 cup

Light bulb


1 ounce

Four dice


Healthy Habits for Healthy Kids: A Nutrition and Activity Guide for Parents, American Dietetic Association, 2003



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