What’s for dinner? And breakfast, lunch, and snack… Wondering what your school-aged child should be eating? Below is a sample day of meals, along with tips on feeding your healthy, happy, 6-year old. Your child probably has pretty established food preferences by now, but children’s tastes can continue to evolve—you never know when an avid broccoli hater may start demanding it for dinner! The key is to offer a variety of healthy foods consistently.
You know that childhood obesity is a big problem in this country, but there’s also lots of research on what works to curb obesity and overweight in children. Eating fruits and vegetables every day and choosing milk or water over soda are the two biggest dietary habits linked to a lower risk of childhood obesity. Getting enough physical activity—at least 60 minutes a day for kids and parents—is another key to a healthy weight. However, it’s important to keep the focus on enjoying fruits, vegetables, and physical activity for their own sake, not to stay a healthy weight. So make sure you model good attitudes toward food and fitness.
Here are some other tips for feeding your 6-year old:
Children of this age can really get into the “eat the rainbow” idea. Challenge them to eat some fruit or vegetable from every color each day—white, yellow, orange, red, purple, and green. Here are fun activities with foods of different colors.
Sample Day of Meals for a 6-year Old:
|Breakfast||1 c. whole grain cereal*
½ c. skim or lowfat milk
|2 oz. whole grains
½ c. dairy
½ c. fruit
|Snack||1 large celery stick with 1 T. light cream cheese or almond butter and 1 T. raisins||¼ c. vegetables
½ oz. meat/beans
¼ c. fruit
|Lunch||1 c. skim milk
Whole wheat pita with 1 thick slice (2 oz.) roasted chicken, ¼ avocado, 5 slices cucumber, and 1 leaf lettuce, and honey-mustard
1 medium orange
|1 c. dairy
2 oz. whole grains
2 oz. roast chicken ¾ c. vegetables
¾ c. fruit
|Snack||½ c. sliced apple and ½ c. cinnamon-sprinkled plain yogurt||½ c. fruit
½ c. dairy
|Dinner||½ baked sweet potato
½ c. broccoli—raw with low fat salad dressing or steamed with 1 T. grated parmesan cheese
2 oz. herb-marinated grilled lean steak** or tempeh
1 whole wheat roll
|1 c. vegetables
2 oz. meat/beans
1 oz. whole grains
* Always look for “100% whole grains” rather than “made with whole grains,” which can have mostly refined grains in them.
** When serving red meat or other sources of iron (leafy greans, tofu, beans), pair it with a food high in vitamin C, like sweet potatoes or tomatoes—it helps your body take in the iron.