By eating the right amount and type of food recommended in Canada's Food Guide, children can get the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Young children can have small appetites which can sometimes make meal time a challenge. Check out some ideas on how to meet their needs.
Serve small nutritious meals and snacks each day.
Because preschoolers and young children have small stomachs, they need to eat small amounts of food more often throughout the day. One Food Guide Serving from a food group can be divided up into smaller amounts and served throughout the day. For example, half a Food Guide Serving of Meat and Alternatives can be served at two different meals such as one egg at lunch and about 30 g (1 oz.) of chicken for dinner.
Learn more about Food Guide Servings divided throughout the day with some sample menus for young children:
Do not restrict nutritious foods because of their fat content. Offer a variety of foods from the four food groups.
Offer a variety of nutritious foods, including some choices that contain fat such as 2% milk, peanut butter and avocado.
Satisfy their thirst with water.
Encourage young children to drink water to quench their thirst and replenish body fluids. Canada 's Food Guide recommends that children and adults choose vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Children also need a total of 500 mL (2 cups) of milk every day to help meet their requirement for vitamin D.
Respect your children's ability to determine how much food to eat.
While parents and caregivers determine the selection of foods offered, young children can determine how much food they need. Throughout the day, children are able to adjust their intake. This explains why some children eat more at one meal than at another.
Be a good role model.
Be a role model for healthy eating. Start by having meals together as a family as often as possible. Turn off the TV. Set a good example. If your child sees you eating your vegetables - he/she will be more likely to eat them too!
If an unfamiliar food is rejected the first time, it can be offered again later. The more often children are exposed to a new food the more likely they are to accept it.
Organize fun physical activities.
Young children rely on parents and caregivers to provide opportunities for physical activity. Some ideas include: bicycling, walking, dancing, games of ball or tag in the summer and sledding or building a snowman in the winter. For more great ideas check out tips for being active.
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