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Healthy Food Choices for Preschoolers

by Tomica Bonner | October 31st, 2013 | Preschool, School

lunch biesThe right nutrition and a balanced diet are of the utmost importance for growing preschoolers. Preschools and day care centers are in charge of providing quality nutrition and healthy food for the children in their care. Following through with nutrition choices that coincide with day care eating habits is beneficial to your child at home. Simple, quick recipes filled with nutritious ingredients will help your children make healthier eating choices in the future.

Preschools and day care centers typically feed their children at least one full meal, in addition to two healthy snacks. They understand the importance of nutritional value, and select food filled with nutrients to promote a healthier lifestyle and equip children with enough energy to play and learn throughout the day.

Consider providing healthier food choices for your children at home, such as the ones provided in day care centers, to ensure they are well-nourished. When possible, create recipes from all major food groups to ensure that your child consumes enough nutrients, including minerals and vitamins.

The USDA’s Child Meal Pattern suggests that children have at least one serving of milk, one fruit or vegetable, and a serving from the grains group for breakfast. There are some easy meal choices that can be fixed quickly that meet these guidelines. Most day care centers serve a bowl of cereal with some fruit and a cup of milk. However, occasionally they will serve toast, eggs, fruit and milk. Rather than toast, the day care center may offer pancakes, waffles or French toast.

Healthy lunch choices are good for children because they provide them with enough afternoon energy to continue to play and learn. Pick lunchtime food choices for your child at home with a minimum of one serving of milk, two servings with fruits and vegetables, a serving of grains and a serving of meat or meat substitute.

Alternatives for meat can consist of peanut butter, cheese, beans and nuts. Try fixing your children a lunch with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with some fruit and some vegetables, such as carrots, along with a cup of milk. Other food selections may include a serving of meat such as turkey or ham, tuna and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Snack time is an essential part of a child’s day. Children have smaller stomachs, making it harder for them to digest three big meals. However, snacks can be both enjoyable and healthy for children. Each snack you prepare for your child should include a serving of milk, fruit or vegetables, and one grain or a serving of meat or meat substitute.

Students attending preschool also have the opportunity to enjoy healthy snacks such as sliced apples with peanut butter or crackers. Fresh fruit and vegetables with milk are also good snack choices. You can also change things up by giving your child yogurt with fresh fruit.

Parents should take advantage of these tips to teach their preschoolers the importance of eating healthy foods at a young age. However, if you’re not a health guru, determining the best food options can be a challenge. Try following the listed serving suggestions, which are used frequently by preschools.

(Photo: bies)

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