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Healthy Eating Guildlines for Children

Grains

Grains should be the foundation of a child's healthy diet. Half of the grains a child eats should be whole. A whole-grain food is labeled "whole wheat" or "whole grain." "Enriched" means the grain product has been processed, so it can't be considered whole anymore. Preschool children ages 2 through 5 should have 3 ounces of grains per day. Children ages 6 through 11 should have 6 ounces of grains per day, with half of those also being whole grain. One ounce of grain is about one half cup of rice or one slice of bread.

Vegetables

Vegetables provide fiber for children, helps them feel full and keeps them from overeating. Children age 2 through 5 should have one cup of vegetables per day. Children 6 through 11 should have 2 1/2 cups per day. One cup of vegetables is about one adult handful or about the size of a tennis ball.

Fruits

Fruit is a natural solution for a child with a sweet tooth. Preschoolers should have 1 cup of fruit per day. Older children need 1 1/2 cups daily. One medium banana is equal to one half cup of fruit. Four ounces of juice is also equal to one half cup of fruit.

Milk and Dairy

Milk and dairy products provide the calcium and vitamin D children need for their developing bodies. Kids ages 2 through 5 need 2 cups per day, and those 6 through 11 need 3 cups per day. One cup of dairy is the equivalent of one third cup of shredded cheese, 2 ounces of processed cheese or 8 ounces of milk.

Meat, Protein and Beans

Meat and beans provide protein for muscle and skin growth, maintenance and repair. It also helps to keep a child's blood sugar levels from dropping too low, making them too hungry and likely to overeat. Ages 2 through 5 need 2 ounces of food from the meat and beans group. Ages 6 through 11 need 5 ounces per day. One ounce is equal to one egg, one slice of deli meat or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

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