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Teaching Children to Eat Healthy Starts with Portion Control

Getting your little ones to learn about portion control is the first step in empowering them to take control of their health at an early age.


​“Getting your little ones to learn about portion control is the first step in empowering them to take control of their health at an early age,” says Debra Luben, M.D., a pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. “Portion control requires planning meals in advance and understanding how much of each food group your child should be consuming.”

Encouraging good eating habits begins with filling your kitchen with a variety of nutritious foods. Keeping finger foods such as apple slices, bananas or carrot sticks are healthy alternatives for afternoon snacks.

As you plan meals and snacks, keep in mind this recommended daily guide to portion size:

Grains

Kids 4-6: 6 servings daily
Kids 6-11: 5 to 7 servings daily

1 slice of whole-grain bread = 1 serving

Vegetables

Kids 4-6: 3 servings daily
Kids 6-11: 4 to 6 servings daily

1 cup of cooked vegetables = 1 serving

Fruits

Kids 4-6: 2 servings daily
Kids 6-11: 3-4 servings daily

½ cup of fresh fruit = 1 serving

Dairy

Kids 4-6: 2 servings daily
Kids 6-11: 3 servings daily

1 cup of milk = 1 serving  

Protein

Kids 4-6: 2 servings daily
Kids 6-11: 5 to 6 servings daily

2-3 oz. of cooked meat = 1 serving

Unhealthy portion sizes are closely linked to childhood obesity and a number of other health-related problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. Eating nutritious foods in moderation may help lower the risk of your child having these health complications in the future.

“Another way to help children make wise food choices is to set a good example for them to follow. If parents include a healthy diet as a part of their daily lifestyle, children are more likely to adopt the same lifestyle as they get older. A few simple steps on your part can help your child learn eating habits that will last for a lifetime,” concludes Dr. Luben.​​

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Debra Luben, MD, FAAP

​I enjoy having ongoing two-way communication with my patients and their families. I have not done my job well if parents still have questions or concerns at the end of an office visit.