Measuring portion sizes of food for adults is difficult enough but when it comes to children, measuring portion sizes of food is doubly difficult because children will simply either not eat or ask for more than you want them to eat. In either case, your calculations with portion sizes of food and healthy food pyramid will be tossed into the garbage bin.
Children always like to eat larger helpings of their favorite foods. Unfortunately, these foods are usually high in sugars and fats because children go by the taste of foods and not by their nutritional values. It is important for mothers to be able to measure portion sizes of food that their child should eat to get the nutrition essential for growth. Children above the age of four need to eat food from all the food groups i.e. fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and whole grains so that they get adequate calories required for their growth. Parents might be familiar with the FDA Food Pyramid but very few are aware that it refers to serving sizes for adults. Portion sizes of food for children are completely different; in fact, portion sizes of food for children depend on their age, sex and developmental issues.
It is not always possible to measure portion sizes of food with a special tool, especially when you are eating out or at a social gathering. On such occasions, you tend to monitor portion sizes of food in relation to objects of everyday use or a body part. Say for example, a serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A serving of pancake or waffles would equal the size of a compact disc (CD). These tricks are all very well when we monitor portion sizes of food for adults. Monitoring portion sizes of food for children is a different ball game altogether, even though the food groups remain the same. Here are some pointers to measure portion sizes of foods from the four food groups:
Portion Sizes of Food for Children: Meats and Beans
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, peas, nuts and beans are the main source of proteins, Vitamin E, magnesium and iron required by the body. Children must get these nutrients in the right quantities for their growth and development. Children aged between 2 and 8 should eat 2 to 4 ounces of meats and beans per day. So if you wish to give them the correct portion sizes of food, use this rule of thumb – one ounce can be obtained from a single egg, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a small handful of nuts or a sandwich-size slice of turkey.
Portion Sizes of Food for Children: Grains
Whole grains provide better nutritional value than refined grains – these may have lost some nutrients and fiber in the milling process. Make a healthy choice by opting for brown bread and brown rice over the white variety. Encourage your child to have oats, cornmeal and barley. Children in the age group 2 to 8 must have 3 to 5 ounces of grain every day. One ounce of grain equals one slice of bread, half cup of rice or pasta or a cup of cereal.
Portion Sizes of Food for Children: Vegetables and Fruits
Although vegetables and fruits are being grouped together here, children must have 1 to 2½ cups of vegetables and 1 to 1½ cups of fruit daily. One cup of veggies equals say, two medium-sized carrots, two large celery stalks or three spears of broccoli. One serving of fruit would mean a small apple, three plums or ½ cup of dried fruits.
Portion Sizes of Food for Children: Dairy Products
Children between the age of 2 and 8 require two cups of dairy products daily. Dairy products include milk and milk products like cheese, pudding, yoghurt, etc. One cup serving means ½ cup of shredded cheese or two slices of cheese or 1½ cups of pudding or ice cream.
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