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Digest This – KEEPIN’ it BALANCED

Ensuring that your child eats a well-balanced diet is vital for maintaining good health. Each day, your child should eat foods from the five major food groups because they each have important vitamins and minerals. Typically, your child should eat between three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruits each day. How can you get your child to eat more? Sneak in a fruit or vegetable as part of a snack or meal. Always have some fresh fruits and vegetables washed and cut and ready for eating in the refrigerator. What about grains? Your child should get at least five to ten servings per day. Items in this group include bread, pasta, tortillas or cereals. There are two types of grains: whole and refined grains. Whole grains will include all of the grain kernel including the bran, germ and endosperm. Brown

rice, oatmeal and whole-wheat flour are some examples. Refined grains such as white rice and white flour have been processed, removing the bran and germ in order to give it a finer texture and improve shelf life. Unfortunately, fiber and many vitamins are removed during the process. Fortunately, most refined grains are enriched, so the vitamins are added back in. Make sure that at least half of the grains consumed are made from whole grains because these grains will contain more fiber, which is not added back into refined grains. From the protein group, your child needs about two to three servings of lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans or peas. Try to include seafood weekly into your child’s diet because this protein source is packed with vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarians can

still get enough protein through beans, peas, soy products, nuts and seeds. Finally, consuming at least two to three servings of dairy products is an important part of a healthy diet as these items are rich in the bone-building nutrients, calcium and vitamin D. Where can you get more information? Your dietitian or doctor can help provide some guidance. You can visit choosemyplate.gov to learn more about a balanced diet and determine whether your child is getting enough from each food group. It also contains useful information on appropriate quantity for each age group.

Becky Biqi Chen was a resident in general pediatrics for three years at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. She is currently specializing in pediatric gastroenterology during her fellowship at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.


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