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How much milk or juice should kids drink?

How much milk or juice should kids drink?

If your child doesn't seem to want to eat food, but drinks lots of milk and juice, they may be filling up on calories from these liquids. After age two, give your child reduced fat milk (skim or 1% milk fat). Even kid's arteries can clog up if they eat too much saturated fat.

Juice is not as nutritious as fresh whole fruit. If your child drinks juice, read the label carefully, and make sure it is 100% fruit juice. A yummy alternative to juice is a fruit smoothie made with whole fruit and yogurt in the blender.

Here are the guidelines on giving juice to kids:

* Sipping juice all day can lead to tooth decay.
* For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup).
* For kids ages 7 to 18, juice intake should not be more than between 8 and 12 ounces a day.
* All children and teens should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.

To reduce the amount of milk or juice your child takes in, try diluting your child's milk or juice with water, and each day gradually adding more water until your child is drinking plain water to quench their thirst. This will help them make the change little by little.

Is snacking okay?

Snacks are great if your kid eats healthy snack foods. Think of snacks as mini-meals, and use them to get more grains, fruits, and vegetables into your child's diet. Keep healthy snacks ready and available to your kids. Bring healthy snacks with you on outings, instead of relying on fast food. Here are some ideas for healthy, no-cook, kid-friendly snacks:

Cut softer raw vegetables or fruit into chunks. Skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks. To prevent discoloration, dip apples, bananas, or pears in orange juice after they're cut. Although it can be challenging getting some children to eat them, vegetables are a child's best friends. Especially when eaten raw, the nutritional value in vegetables can't be beat. Try broccoli or cauliflower flowerets, carrot or celery sticks, green pepper slices, cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges, zucchini sticks, and more. Cut them into sticks or coins. Then dip them into salsa, hummus, or yogurt dip. These are great alternatives to high-fat dips made with mayonnaise or sour cream.
For older children, try making your own air-popped popcorn -- kids like to watch as it flies out of the popper.
Peel a banana. Dip it in yogurt, then roll in crushed breakfast cereal, and freeze.

Put 1/2 cup low fat fruit yogurt and 1/2 cup cold 100% fruit juice in a non-breakable, covered container. Make sure the lid is tight. Then shake it up, and pour into a cup. Kids also go for blender smoothies, made with yogurt and whole fruit.
Using cookie cutters with fun shapes, like dinosaurs, stars, and hearts, cut slices of cheese, low-fat lunchmeat, and whole-grain bread. Then put them together to make fun sandwiches. Eat the edges, too.
Mix peanut butter and bran flake cereal in a bowl. Shape them into balls with clean hands. Then roll them in crushed graham crackers. Fresh peanut butter (which often can be ground fresh for you at a health food store) is healthier than peanut butter with added fat, sugar and salt.
Fill celery with peanut butter or cream cheese. Arrange raisins along the top. Call it "Ants on a Log!"
Favorite fruits are often grapes (be sure to cut them in half for kids under age four), apple wedges, and banana slices. When choosing fruit, it's important to remember the many, many options available, including lots of kinds of berries, pears, grapefruit and orange slices, cantaloupe chunks and pineapple. And don't forget about more exotic fruits, like kiwi fruit, papaya and mango, and the fun star fruit (carambola).

What if my kid won't eat meat or is a vegetarian?

A vegetarian diet can be very safe and healthy for your child. But you may need to remind your child that being a vegetarian doesn't necessarily make them healthy (they may gravitate away from hamburgers to pop and French fries)! You and your child should learn to eat a variety of foods especially grains and legumes (beans) for protein, and not lean too heavily on cheese and eggs, which are higher in fat and cholesterol. Having a vegetarian in the family provides a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about nutrition and find some creative new ways to eat well.

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