The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) publish dietary guidelines for all Americans, age 2 and older. A Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children ages 2 to 6 is available online at www.usda.gov/cnpp/KidsPyra/ or from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children, 1120 20th St. NW, Suite 200, North Lobby, Washington, DC 20036.
1. See healthy snacks as part of children’s overall daily nutrition.
2. Each meal includes a fruit, vegetable, protein, milk, and bread.
3. Observe dietary restrictions, if any.
4. Serve only real, 100% juices (no soft drinks, no sugary substitutes).
5. Vegetables and fruits are fresh whenever possible.
6. Select foods that are low in sugar, salt, and other added chemicals. Choose foods with the most food value.
7. Serve child-sized portions—prepare foods with lots of appeal to children: finger foods, colorful combinations, different textures.
8. Encourage children to try a bite of a new food. Don’t force children to clean their plates.
9. Never use food as a punishment or as a reward.
10. Give children time to eat and to finish their meal.
11. Meals and snacks are pleasant times for friendly conversation.
12. Model and expect children to use appropriate table manners and pleasant conversation by saying “Please” and “thank you.”
At LULAC Head Start Inc., we not only want to prevent injury and illness, we want to promote health. One of the best ways to stay healthy and to feel good is to eat the most nutritious foods. We fix and serve healthy snacks and meals to contribute to children’s overall health. We do not waste our money on sugar, salt, and other chemicals that don’t contribute to children’s healthy development. Sodas, cookies, and other treats do not promote growth. Instead, these promote a lifetime of being undernourished and overweight.
These foods are some of the best sources of balanced nutrition within each category. Young children should have one food from each category at each meal and one food from any two categories for snack.
Protein: Fish, poultry, meat, cheese, eggs, tofu
Grains: Whole grain, enriched breads, crackers, Melba toast; starchy vegetables (peas, beans, corn, potatoes); corn tortillas, breads, whole grain, enriched, cereals without added sugar; rice
Dairy: Milk, cheese: cream, ricotta, hard, cottage; yogurt
Fruits: Bananas, nectarines, melons, cherries, berries, oranges, apricots, grapefruit, peaches, tangerines
Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, lima beans