A Pediatric Nutritional Prescription
• This is Dr. Judy and welcome to today’s healthcast where I will be discussing your child’s nutritional prescription or quite simply the nutritional requirements your child needs from grade school to adolescence.
• Firstly children need to eat all macronutrients, that is, they need to eat protein, fats and carbohydrates. Micronutrients are the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are present in fruits and vegetables.
• All children need to eat 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day. Breakfast is not to be skipped. Research has shown that children who begin their day with breakfast perform better academically than those who skip breakfast.
• Snacks should be small mini meals, dairy products or fruits and vegetables. Limit treats to one a day. That includes candy, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, sweetened drinks, chips, pretzels, and other processed snack foods. Keep those snacks to the serving size that is on its nutrition food label.
• Dairy is coming back in vogue and there is evidence to suggest that eating dairy can help your body combat excessive weight gain and helps lower blood pressure. Children 9 and younger need 900 mg/day and older children need 12-1300 mg/day. An 8 oz glass of milk (low fat of course), and an 8 oz container of yogurt each have 300 mg/serving. A 1 oz slice of cheese has 200 mg. If your child is lactose intolerant or milk allergic, there is lactose free milk, soy milk or rice milk which have the same amount of calcium. Supplement with a calcium substitute such as Tums, Viactiv, Oscal or Caltrate if your child’s intake is insufficient.
• Protein servings other than dairy should ideally include poultry without the skin, lean cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork, and fish. Tofu, beans, legumes and lentils are also great sources of protein if your child is more experimentative. Nut butters are another good source. Children younger than 9 years need 2 palm sized protein servings/day and older children need 3 servings/day. The serving size for nut butters is 2 tablespoons. Prepare meats and fish preferably by grilling, baking, roasting, and sautéing in oils such as olive, corn and canola oils.
• Aim to get your child to eat 5 fruits and vegetables per day. Limit juice to those that are 100% fruit juice and then limit to only 4 oz/day. Encourage them to try different vegetables, even though they may not initially be to their liking. Remember, it takes 10-15 tries to acquire a new taste. Don’t give up after 2-3 tries. Encourage eating salad with or without salad dressing. Limit salad dressing to 2 tbsp. and mostly use vinaigrette dressings. Experts recommend that half of the dinner plate should be vegetables, either raw or cooked. Don’t forget that eating soups and stews can help get those extra servings in. An optional multivitamin is a good insurance policy for those finicky vegetable eaters.
• Encourage whole grain carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and sweet potatoes. For a change, try whole grain wraps and 6 in. whole grain pita pockets. Limit the serving size of pasta, noodles, rice, potato, stuffing, corn and peas to ½ cup. A visual of a ½ cup serving, is the volume of a tennis ball.
• Eat meals at a table and try to have as many family dinners as possible. It’s a great time for philosophical debates and a great time to discuss family values.
• Have your child drink milk or water with their meals. Avoid sugared drinks and limit sugar free beverages to one a day. Your child should drink half their body weight in fluid ounces of water daily. For example if your child is 80 lbs they need 40 oz or 5 glasses of H20/day.
• If your child is hungry after dinner, have them drink more water, in case they are confusing hunger with thirst. Next offer them more vegetables, then more protein. Discourage seconds on the carbohydrate serving.
• Breakfast can be eggs, whole grain cereal, or cold cereal without excessive amounts of sugar. Keep to the portion size on the food label. Try to have a fruit or vegetable serving at breakfast.
• Pack lunch and snacks for your child, most days of the week. The fresh food you send from home is more nutritious than what is typically offered in schools. Have your child avoid the school vending machines and snack bars.
• Limit intake of fast food to preferably once a week and no super sized portion sizes.
• Encourage your child to be active. Aim for some form of exercise 60 minutes/day most days of the week.
• Limit sedentary activities, such as TV viewing and video games to 1-2 hours combined per day and it is recommended that there should be no TV in your child’s bedroom.
• Remember that your child looks up to you and will follow your lead, so be a good role model.
• Follow this nutritional prescription and your child will grow to their potential and will avoid the chronic diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes associated with poor nutrition.
This is Dr. Judy thanking you for listening to today’s healthcast where I discussed a Pediatric Nutritional Prescription. I encourage you to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or suggestions or visit me online at www.askdrjudy.com. Until next time, this is Dr. Judy wishing you and your family good health. Thank you.