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teaching children to eat healthy starts with portion control

Teaching Children to Eat Healthy Starts with Portion Control

September 29, 2019

“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, MD, 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. 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: Six servings daily
Kids 6-11: Five to seven servings daily
1 slice of whole-grain bread = 1 serving

Vegetables
Kids 4 – 6: Three servings daily
Kids 6 – 11: Four to six servings daily
1 cup of cooked vegetables = 1 serving

Fruits
Kids 4 – 6: Two servings daily
Kids 6 – 11: Three to four servings daily
½ cup of fresh fruit = 1 serving

Dairy
Kids 4 – 6: Two servings daily
Kids 6 – 11: Three servings daily
1 cup of milk = 1 serving

Protein
Kids 4 – 6: Two servings daily
Kids 6 – 11: Five to six 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.

Headshot of Debra Luben, MD, FAAP

About the Author

Dr. Debra Luben is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Main Campus clinic. Her clinical interests are centered on preventive medicine and wellness.

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