Eating Well

Here are some key tips for eating well: Kids Eating

Fruits and Veggies

  • Go for Five! Eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables (combined) each day.
  • Try to eat a fruit or a vegetable with every meal and snack.
  • Just take a bite! Don't be afraid to try a new fruit or vegetable - chances are you'll like it.
  • Fruits and vegetables come in lots of colors. Try to eat as many different colors as you can.
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Advanced Information on Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are important foods to include in a healthy diet, but many kids (and adults!) eat much less than the recommended 5 or more servings each day. Fruits and vegetables are packed with lots of vitamins and nutrients. They are also a great source of fiber, which helps you feel full.

The trick is that each type of fruit or vegetable has unique benefits, so it is important to eat different types. Try to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables so you get all the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy. It's fun to try new fruits and vegetables, and they taste great! They say that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but don't forget your oranges and broccoli! Striving for variety also means you should also try eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Fats

  • You need to eat fat to keep your body healthy, but not all fats are the same. Try to choose fats that are good for your body.
  • Fats from fish, nuts, and seeds are healthy for your body.
  • Limit fats from animal sources, like butter, whole milk, and red meat.
  • Do not eat trans fats found in fast food like French fries and baked goods like cookies.
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Fat is a tricky subject for kids (and adults!) to think about. Kids often associate "fat" with body image, and they do not think about it in a good way. Fat is just one of three energy sources that we get from food (carbohydrates, protein, and fat all give us energy for the body to work). We need to eat fat for energy, to help us feel full, and because it provides nutrients like vitamin E. Our bodies need fat for nerve function, healthy skin and to protect our organs (fat acts like a cushion!). Some body fat is normal and healthy! However, we need to be careful about the type of fat we consume.

Healthy fats are plant fats (like nuts or olive oil) and fish oils, or have lower saturated fat (like low-fat milk). Fats that are not healthy are saturated, like fat from animals (butter, red meat, and whole milk), and trans fat (found in processed snack foods, margarine, and many fried fast foods like French fries).

Food fats are not turned directly into body fat; they have functions in the body. When people gain too much weight, it is because they eat more calories from any type of food (calories comes from carbohydrates, protein and fat) than they use for exercise and basic body functions (including growth and development).

Bread

Whole Grains

  • Whole grains are important because they help you feel full longer and make your body healthy.
  • Eat whole grains (like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat crackers and brown rice) instead of refined grains (like white bread, muffins, pasta, and white rice) whenever possible.
  • Breakfast is a great time to try whole grains. Try whole grain cereals, waffles, bread, or bagels.
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Advanced Information on Whole Grains

Many kids do not eat enough whole grains. Whole grains contain fiber, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Whole grains help keep your blood sugar under control, arteries clear, and they also make you feel full longer. Refined "white" flour and sugar do not have the nutrients or health benefits of whole grains. When eating grains for snack (like bread, crackers, and cereal), eat whole grains! Read nutrition labels and choose 100% whole grain breads and cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Choose breads and cereals that list a whole grain first, like whole wheat, barley, oats or rye.

Snacking

  • Our bodies need healthy snacks to stay energized between meals.
  • Choose healthy snack foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, and lean meats or proteins.
  • Snacks that have a lot of sugar, unhealthy fat, and salt like candy, cookies, and chips are "slow" snacks.
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You probably enjoy treats at snack time, but you also need the nutrition and energy that comes from a healthy snack. Snacks often provide kids with up to 25% of their daily calorie needs, so eating healthy and tasty foods and drinks is important! Snacks create a bridge between meals - they give you the energy you need to concentrate on schoolwork and to play.

It is unhealthy to eat foods like cookies or brownies because these often contain harmful trans fats. Trans fats are oils that have been chemically treated to make them harder, and more shelf stable so they last longer. Trans fats are harmful to health, so it's important to read food labels to choose products that list 0 grams trans fat, and do not list "partially hydrogenated oil" in the ingredients. Also, look at the nutrition label on canned, boxed, and frozen foods to ensure that sodium (salt) levels are low.

Be Sugar Smart

  • Sweetened drinks like soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar.
  • Eating and drinking too much sugar is not healthy for your body and it can cause cavities.
  • Water and low fat milk are the best drinks to have at snacks and meals
  • Juice is not as healthy as it seems. It can have as much sugar as soda.
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Kids often replace healthy drinks like milk or water with sugary drinks like punch, soda, and fruit drinks. Drinking too many sugar-sweetened drinks, as well as eating sugary foods like candy and cookies, can lead to dental cavities and may increase the risk for overweight, diabetes and heart disease. In fact, some kids are developing type 2 diabetes because of poor diets and overweight.

Eat naturally sweet or low-sugar snack foods like dried fruit, yogurt and fruit (try plain or vanilla yogurt mixed with fruit), granola, or low to moderate sugar cereals (under 10 grams of sugar per serving). Also, snacks do not need to be sweet! Try eating savory snacks like popcorn, trail mix or whole grain crackers with no trans fat in them.

Drink Water

  • Water is the best thirst quencher.
  • Drink water when you are thirsty and before, during, and after physical activity.
  • Drink water instead of juice or soda at every snack and meal.
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      Advanced Information on Drinking Water

      Water is the best drink for kids. It is calorie free, hydrates kids, and is low-cost from your nearest tap! Kids do not need sport and energy drinks because most sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes who exercise for hours at high intensity. They contain lots of sugar and calories.