Children’s Eating Patterns

From 1 to 6 years of age, children experience many developmental progress and acquisition of skills. 1 year olds typically use their fingers to eat and may need assistance with a cup. By 2 years of age, they can hold a cup in one hand and use a spoon also but may prefer to use their hands. 6 year olds have refined skills and are beginning to use a knife for cutting and spreading.

After the 1st year of life, the growth rate slows and appetite decreases. Children often have less interest in food and an increased interest in the world surrounding them. They can develop periods when foods that were previously liked are now refused or they can request a specific food at every meal. Parents often become concerned about the adequacy of the child’s diet and may become frustrated with their behavior. However, no child can be forced to eat. Parents should continue to offer a variety of foods which also include their child’s favorite ones.

Preschool children tend to vary their food intakes during the day but their total daily energy intake remains constant. Preschool children eat best with small servings of food offered 4 to 6 times a day. Snacks are important when they are carefully chosen that have nutrients and are least likely to promote dental caries.

Some typical snacks include:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese
  • Raw vegetable sticks
  • Milk
  • Fruit juices
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Dry cereal
  • Peanut butter sandwiches

*It’s also important to realize what serving sizes you are giving your child. The general rule of thumb is to offer 1 tablespoon of each food for every year of age and serve more food according to the child’s appetite.

Serving Sizes Include:

2-3 year olds

Milk&Dairy Products  1/2 cup       4-5 servings a day

Meat,Fish,Poultry        1-2 ounces  2 servings a day    

Veggies                             2-3 tbsp.      4-5 servings a day  

Fruit                                  1 small             4-5 servings

Whole grain                  1 slice                3 servings

Cooked Cereal             1/4-1/2 cup

Dry Cereal                    1/2 cup-1 cup

*** Vegetables and Fruit are categorized together as 4-5 servings/day. Whole grains include cooked cereal and dry cereal, accounting for 3 servings total!

Senses other than taste play an important part in food acceptance by young children. Food with extreme temperature are often avoided and some foods are rejected because of odor rather than taste. Many children won’t accept foods that touch each other on a plate, and mixed dishes with unidentifiable foods are not popular. A sandwich is often refused because it is cut the wrong way or if a cracker is broken, it often goes uneaten. Young children also don’t eat well if they are tired. Children also need active activities and time in the fresh air to stimulate a good appetite.

Food service in group settings like day care centers, Head Start programs and preschool programs in elementary schools are regulated by federal or state guidelines. Many facilities may participate in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program. The quality of meals and snacks can vary greatly. Also, because of peer influence, children usually eat well in group settings. Experiencing new foods, participating in simple food preparation, and planting a garden are activities that develop and enhance positive food habits.

Source: Mahan, L. Kathleen., and Sylvia Escott-Stump. Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy. St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2008. Print.

Prevent Chronic Disease!


The roots of chronic adult disease such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity are based off of a person’s childhood developments. American children and adolescents have higher blood cholesterol levels and higher intakes of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol compared to other countries. Studies have shown that early coronary atherosclerosis begins in childhood and adolescence. Prevention of cardiovascular disease in children older than 2 years of age are the same for adults:

  • No more than 30% of calories from fat (10% or less from saturated fat, up to 10% from unsaturated fat and 10-15% from monounsaturated fat)
  • No more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day
  • Cholesterol screening is recommended for children with family risk factors

The American Heart Association have recommendations including:

  • A diet low in saturated fat and trans-fatty acids, increased fish intake, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and limited juice and sweetened beverages
  • 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily
  • No more than 35% of calories from fat

Osteoporosis prevention begins early by maximizing calcium retention and bone density during childhood and adolescence which is a time when bones are growing rapidly and are most sensitive to diet and exercise. Studies show that in order to reach the maximum calcium balance during puberty children may need to consume more than the recommended amount. Because food consumption surveys show that children are drinking more soft drinks and non-citrus juices and less milk, education is needed to encourage young people to consume the appropriate amount of calcium from food sources.

Education about fiber and disease prevention has been focused mainly on adults and only limited information is available on the intake of fiber for children. Fiber is needed for health and normal laxation in children. Most children are consuming less than the DRI, studies have shown. Education is needed to help increase fiber intake in children.

A decreased level of physical activity in children has also been a problem for decades and is seen as a big contributor toward obesity in children. School physical education programs have declined and generally decreases with age. Regular physical activity improves strength and endurance, enhances self-esteem, and reduces anxiety and stress. It’s been said that exercising for at least 60 minutes a day is recommended for children.

Mahan, L. Kathleen., and Sylvia Escott-Stump. Krause’s Food & Nutrition Therapy. St. Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 2008. Print.


Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a disease that is hereditary. It causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and young adults. It is a life-threatening disorder. It is caused by a defective gene which causes the body to produce abnormally thick and sticky fluid, called mucus. This builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and in the pancreas, the organ that helps to break down and absorb food. The collection of sticky mucus results in life-threatening lung infections and serious digestion problems.

An estimated 1 in 29 Caucasian Americans have the CF gene. The disease is the most common, deadly, inherited disorder affecting Caucasians in the United States. It’s more common among those of Northern or Central European descent. Most children with CF are diagnosed by age 2. A small number, however, are not diagnosed until age 18 or older. These patients usually have a milder form of the disease.


  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Repeated lung infections
  • Repeated sinus infections
  • Salty taste to the skin
  • Foul-smelling, greasy stools
  • Poor weight gain and growth
  • Distended abdomen from constipation
  • Intestinal blockage, particularly in newborns
  • Child isn’t growing properly

**One of the first signs of cystic fibrosis is an excessively salty taste to the skin. People with cystic fibrosis tend to have higher than normal amounts of salt in their sweat. Parents often can taste the salt when they kiss their child.

**Cystic fibrosis is one of the leading causes of bronchiectasis, a condition in which damaged airways widen and become flabby and scarred.

**Repeated lung infections damage the lungs, making it more likely for the lung to collapse.

**Because the lining inside the nose is inflamed and swollen, it’s more likely to develop large or multiple polyps — soft, fleshy growths inside your nose.

**The pancreas also produces insulin, which your body needs to use sugar. Cystic fibrosis increases your risk of developing diabetes.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Thick mucus blocks the tubes that carry digestive enzymes from your pancreas to your intestines. Without these enzymes, your body can’t absorb protein, fats or the fat-soluble vitamins — A, D, E and K.

CF Diet – In CF, a high-calorie, high-fat diet is vital for normal growth and development in children, and offers adults a way to maintain optimal health. People with cystic fibrosis may need extra calories to compensate for the malabsorption of nutrients. These extra calories also help to meet the greater energy needed for breathing.

Cystic fibrosis patients loose on average 10 times more salt than other people. Salt is important, as it controls the water balance in the body. A lack of the mineral causes the body to dehydrate, which happens frequently with this genetic disorder. It’s therefore normal for patients to eat salty foods or add salt to their dishes.

Adding more fat to the diet—

  • Simply adding one or more spoons of oil to meat or fish adds a lot of calories without adding enormous amounts of food. Examples are olive oil, sunflower oil, mayonnaise, béarnaise…
  • Butter is also a good source of fat which can be spread on a toast or sandwich. Cooking butter can also be used in large quantities when cooking meat and fish.
  • Cheese is also a great source of fat which can be eaten with bread, potatoes, soup and dishes prepared in the oven.


Chron’s Disease

Chron’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It usually affects the intestines, but can occur from the mouth to the rectum.

The exact cause of Chron’s disease is unknown but is often linked to a problem with the body’s immune system response. With Chron’s disease, the immune system can’t tell the difference between normal body tissue and foreign substances: this is what leads to chronic inflammation. It is also known as an autoimmune disorder.

The disease can occur at any age, however it usually occurs in people between 15-35 years old. Chron’s disease unfortunately has no cure. Once the disease begins, it tends to fluctulate. Inflammatory bowel disease affects approximately 500,000 to 2 million people in the United States. Men and women are affected equally. Americans of Jewish European descent are 4 to 5 times more likely to develop IBD than the general population. If a person has a relative with the disease, his/her risk of developing the disease is estimated to be at least 10 times that of the general population and 30 times greater if the relative with Crohn’s disease is a sibling.

Symptoms: Common symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Less common symptoms are rectal bleeding, liver inflammation, swollen gums, and ulcers.

Complications: obstruction of the small intestine, abscesses, fistulae, and intestinal bleeding, painful eye conditions, painful red raised spots on legs.

Diet plan:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease can make it hard to get the nutrients you need.
  • It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet to help you keep your weight up and stay strong.
  • Some foods can make symptoms worse. Not eating these foods may help reduce your symptoms.
  • No one diet is right for everyone with an inflammatory bowel disease. Keep a food diary to find out which foods cause problems for you. Then you can avoid those foods and choose others that supply the same nutrients.
  • Because you may not be absorbing all the nutrients from the food you eat, you will need to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet. This may be easier to do if you eat regular meals plus 2 or 3 snacks each day.
  • You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to help you get the nutrients you need.

Common food problems:

  • Dairy products for people who are lactose intolerant.
  • High-fiber foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Often people have the most problems with gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, and onions, or foods with hulls, such as seeds, nuts, and corn.
  • High-fat foods, such as fried foods, butter and margarine, mayonnaise, peanut butter, nuts, ice cream, and fatty cuts of red meat.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Foods with caffeine, such as chocolate and coffee.
  • Carbonated drinks.
  • Alcohol

*Important * What you eat does not increase the inflammation that causes your disease, but some types of foods, such as high-fiber fruits and vegetables, may make your symptoms worse. This is especially true during a flare-up. As a result, you may be tempted not to eat these foods at all. But that can make it hard to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy.

During a flare-up, avoid or reduce foods that make symptoms worse. But instead of cutting out a whole group of high-nutrient foods, try replacing them with healthy choices.

  • Choose dairy products that are low in lactose, such as yogurt or hard cheeses like cheddar. Or try drinking lactose-reduced milk.
  • If you are having fat in your stools, choose low-fat foods instead of high-fat ones. For instance, some cuts of red meat have a lot of fat. A low-fat choice would be lean beef, poultry, or fish, such as cod. Instead of frying foods, try baking or broiling them.
  • Cook fruits and vegetables without skins, or seeds. Try different ways of preparing them, such as steaming, stewing, or baking. Peel and seed fresh fruits and vegetables if these bother you, or choose canned varieties.

Key Tips:

  • Eat a varied, nutritious diet that is high in calories and protein.
  • Try eating 3 meals plus 2 or 3 snacks a day. It may be easier to get more calories if you spread your food intake throughout the day.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements if your doctor recommends them.
  • Try adding high-calorie liquid supplements, such as Ensure Plus or Boost Plus, if you have trouble keeping your weight up.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. This can help you avoid dehydration, kidney problems, and gallstones.
  • See your doctor or dietitian if your diet feels too limited or you are losing weight.



Halloween Treats!

I recently read an article that was very interesting about halloween. I felt this was necessary since it’s that time of the year again! Here are some healthy Halloween tips in order to stop overindulging in the candy…

Setting a limit on halloween treats is important, especially for children. One or two treats a day is reasonable according to dietitian Kim Kramer. It’s important for parents to be involved in following the same rules they set for their children as well as explain to them the reasoning behind it.

Halloween Healthy tips:

  • Keep the candy out of reach of your children. Allow them to have a couple treats after dinner each week
  • Offer incentives such as trading in a certain amount of candy can get them a book or small present they want
  • Hand out healthier treats such as 100 calorie snack bags or hand out halloween pencils, erasers, stickers or tattoos!
  • Avoid sugar-free candies. These can lead to bloating and cramping
  • Another alternative to candy bars is snack-sized granola bars
  • Don’t overbuy at the store. Take any leftover candy to work or give it away to someone else!
  • Keep moving! Don’t let Halloween get you off track of being healthy and exercising!