Diet and Nutrition Facts for Kids

Growing and being healthy requires a proper diet. Kids should know that a balanced nutrition can lead to strong bones, strength, endurance and beautiful skin and hair. To be fit and healthy requires paying attention to food, drink and fitness level. Kids should exercise daily, stay hydrated and read labels. These boxes of information on all food explain what energy is inside and the nutrition it will provide. Daily diets include ingredients that help muscle building, energy increasing, bone strengthening and natural protection from diseases and sickness.

Calories

Calories in food explain how much energy is stored inside. Every single body needs calories in order to move and survive. Most kids think calories are bad because they hear about their negative aspects on commercials, in magazines and movies all the time. Calories can only make a person gain weight when they are not used. As all foods have calories, there is no way to stop eating calories all together and be healthy. Limiting bad calories and staying active is the best option for the whole family. Drinks that are high in calories are sodas, juices and milk, whereas water doesn’t have any calories and teas are generally low in calories. High calorie foods generally have a lot of fat and sugar as well. Children between 2-3 years old need about 1000 calories a day and those between 4-8 need between 1400-1600 calories per day. Kids between 9-13 years old should have somewhere between 1600-2200 calories per day depending on gender.

Protein

Protein makes up a body’s muscles, organs and immune system. Great sources of lean protein include boneless, skinless chicken breasts, white meat turkey, fishes and nuts. Proteins also have B-vitamins and iron, necessary for growth. Kids between 2 and 3 years old should be consuming 2 servings daily. 4 to 8 year olds should be eating 3-4 ounces and 9 to 13 years eating 5 ounces of protein every day.

Total Fat

Fat seems like it would be a bad thing, but fats are necessary in all bodies, especially growing kids. Healthy amounts of fat help develop the brain and nervous system. Most fruits and vegetables have little to no fat, while most meats, nuts and oils have a lot of fat. There are healthier fat options when choosing what to eat. Choose olive oil instead of lard, avocado instead of mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette instead of ranch dressing. Fat for children between 2-3 years should be limited to 33-54 grams. Those 4-8 years should eat less than 39-62 grams of fat. Tweens and teens between 9-12 years old should consume no more than 62-85 grams of fat daily.

Carbohydrate

There are two different carbohydrates, both used as a major supply of energy within the body. Simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars, include candy, fruit and milk. Complex carbohydrates are starches; these include bread, cereal, rice and pasta. Children between 2-3 years should eat 3 to 5 servings a day. Those between 4 and 8 years old need about 4-5 ounces and 9 to 13 year olds need 5-6 ounces of carbohydrates per day.

Fiber

Fiber has the natural ability to make people feel fuller and helps kids from overeating. It also has added nutritional value, like protecting against cancer, lowering cholesterol and prevents heart disease. Great sources of fiber are found within most fruits and vegetables, though favorites are apples, peas and bananas. Children 2-3 years old should eat 1-2 servings of fruit and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day. Kids between 4 and 8 need about 1-2 cups of both fruits and vegetables and those between 9 and 12 need about 3 ½ to 4 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.

Calcium

Calcium helps create strong and healthy bones for growing kids. It can also help prevent osteoporosis, rickets and increases the necessary vitamin D within the diet. Low fat options of milk, cheese and yogurt are the best sources of calcium. Kids between 2 and 3 years old should be eating 3 servings daily. 4 to 8 year olds should consume about 1 to 2 cups of milk and 9-13 year olds need about 3 cups of calcium a day.