January 1, 2010, Newsletter Issue #186: Preschooler Nutritional Needs

Tip of the Week

Your preschooler eats three meals and two snacks a day, drinks 2% milk, and rarely eats sugary desserts. Does that mean he is healthy? That all depends on what he is eating for his meals and snacks, and whether he is getting adequate exercise. According to the USDA, the average preschooler between the ages of 3 and 5 with daily physical activity of 30-60 minutes needs about 1400 calories per day. Those calories should be divided up as follows: Grain group - 5 ounces, Vegetable group - 1.5 cups, Fruit group - 1.5 cups, Milk group - 2 cups, Meat & Beans group - 4 ounces.

What does all this mean? Basically, you should offer your preschooler a variety of foods, watch portion control, and try to include at least 3 food groups at each meal. That means lunch should not be a  couple of hot dogs with french fries. Instead, go for half of a turkey sandwich, some cucumber slices, and a small serving of fruit for dessert. Preschoolers also should not be eating sugary cereals, cookies, ice cream, fried foods, whole milk, or other excessive fats and sugars on a daily basis. These treats are fine once in a while, but they should not be a mainstay in their diet.

MyPyramid for preschoolers offers a customized meal plan for your preschooler based on age and activity level. They also offer sample meal plans, snack ideas, and ways to help your preschooler maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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