How to Have a Balanced Diet During Back-to-School Rush

Keep your child’s eating habits healthy on school days. Know which nutrients and how much your child needs.

Kids’ nutrition involves the same kinds of nutrients adults need—protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. However, children need different amounts of specific nutrients as they grow.

Use the following nutritional guidelines to help ensure that you provide the perfect formulation of nutrients to protect your children’s health, and help them feel strong and energetic as they grow, develop, and meet their daily challenges at school.

Dietary Guidelines for U.S. Americans recommends these basic nutritional amounts for boys and girls in various age groups.

High-Nutrient Foods

Children’s diets should include:

  • Vegetables — A variety of fresh or frozen vegetables, including red, dark green, and orange vegetables, peas and beans, amongst others every week. Canned vegetables are higher in sodium.
  • Fruits — Fresh, frozen or dried fruits instead of fruit juices (which are high in calories). Remember, dried fruits contain more calories.
  • Dairy — Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods and beverages, like milk, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Grains — Whole grains, including oatmeal, bread, popcorn, wild or brown rice. Limit servings of refined grains like pasta or white bread.
  • Protein — Poultry, fish, seafood, lean red meat, eggs, peas, beans, and unsalted seed and nuts.

Limit Your Child’s Intake of These

  • Refined Sugar — Limit added sugar. Serve foods and drinks containing natural sugars, like fruit and milk instead of those with refined sugar.
  • Saturated and Trans Fats — Substitute fats from some red meat, dairy products, and poultry by serving nut or vegetable oils, which contain Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. Olives, avocados, and seafood also contain healthier fats. Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated oil to avoid trans fats.

Recommended Nutrition for Children

The following are general recommendations for children’s daily nutrition.
Daily guidelines for girls ages 4 – 8
Total calorie intake of 1,200-1,800 (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 3 – 5 ounces
  • Vegetables 1.5 – 2.5 cups
  • Fruits 1 – 1.5 cups
  • Dairy 2.5 cups
  • Grains 4 – 6 ounces

Daily guidelines for boys ages 4 – 8
Total calorie intake of 1,200-2,000, (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 3 – 5.5 ounces
  • Vegetables 1.5 – 2.5 cups
  • Fruits 1 – 2 cups
  • Dairy 2.5 cups
  • Grains 4 – 6 ounces

Daily guidelines for girls ages 9 – 13
Total calorie intake of 1,400-2,200, (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 4 – 6 ounces
  • Vegetables 1.5 – 3 cups
  • Fruits 1.5 – 2 cups
  • Dairy 3 cups
  • Grains 5 – 7 ounces

Daily guidelines for boys ages 9 – 13
Total calorie intake of 1,600-2,600 (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 5 – 6.5 ounces
  • Vegetables 2 – 3.5 cups
  • Fruits 1.5 – 2 cups
  • Dairy 3 cups
  • Grains 5 – 9 ounces

Daily guidelines for girls ages 14 – 18
Total calorie intake of 1,800-2,400, (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 5 – 6.5 ounces
  • Vegetables 2.5 – 3 cups
  • Fruits 1.5 – 2 cups
  • Dairy 3 cups
  • Grains 6 – 8 ounces

Daily guidelines for boys ages 14 – 18
Total calorie intake of 2,000-3,200, (variable based on activity level and growth).

  • Protein 5.5 – 7 ounces
  • Vegetables 2.5 – 4 cups
  • Fruits 2 – 2.5 cups
  • Dairy 3 cups
  • Grains 6 – 10 ounces

For More Information

For more information about children’s health or nutrition, or to see a pediatrician or primary care doctor in Arkansas, at your local medical clinic, contact ARcare at (877) 876-8032 to schedule an appointment.

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