Adolescent Dietary Recommendations...

The ADA states that to help control the amount of sugar your child consumes, always try to read food labels and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Also, select beverages, such as water, that keep children hydrated. To help the public make choices for a healthy diet, the USDA and DHHS published Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines include:

  1. Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Children eating a variety of nutrient-dense dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, along with beverages such as milk at meal times, is highly encouraged. Chocolate milk on occasion is acceptable.
  2. Lean proteins: Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Try to vary protein choices for children to include eggs, beans, peas and legumes, too.
  3. Fruits and vegetables:  Combined these should be half of what your child eats every day. These are low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Avoid fruit as a snack, they should only be eaten at meal times as they still are high in sugar and acid.
  4. Grains: Make sure at least half of their grains are whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice. Use sugars and salt (sodium) in moderation.
  5. Sugars and Beverages: IT IS IMPERATIVE CHILDREN DRINK PLAIN WATER! Startinga child out at a young age drinking water and plain white milk is essential to laying the foundation of healthy diet choices for life. Water is an essential nutrient and makes up 65% of a child’s body weight! Juice is unnecessary and often times counteractive to a child’s well being. There are instances it is beneficial, but only in moderation or if recommended by your physician. In addition, a child should never consume soft drinks, sodas (clear or dark), sweet tea, Gatorade, Capri un, etc. These all develop a child to develop poor taste buds and an unhealthy appetite for sweet and acidic drinks. This will cause tooth decay and contribute to other childhood developmental issues such as obesity and diabetes.  Regarding sweets, it is important to balance the child’s sweets eaten with physical activity to maintain a healthy body mass index. The best sweet for a child is plain milk or dark chocolate or frozen yogurt. These easily clean off the teeth, and contain some nutritional benefits.
  6. Snacking: Limiting or eliminating snacking is key. Children who snack on carbohydrates are at high risk for dental decay. When a child must have a snack we encourage the following: string cheese, carrots, celery, nuts (age appropriate), or popcorn (age appropriate). Snacking on carbohydrates (breads, crackers, goldfish, dried fruit, regular fruit, fruit snacks, candy, dried cereal) can rapidly cause decay. The sugars are broken down in the mouth, creating an acidic environment that will erode and break down enamel over time. Maintaining a natural pH in the mouth is essential to maintaining your child’s healthy smile!