No matter what growth or development stage your child is at, portions are pretty confusing for parents—so we’re taking on the legwork and making it easy!
We’ve researched all the important guidelines you need to know and put together a comprehensive portions guide, from toddler to teen, so you can rest easy.
Toddlers & Preschoolers (2 to 4 years)In the toddler and preschool years, it’s important to serve your child what’s best for their nutrition (think lots of whole foods) in the correct portion sizes and then let them eat according to appetite. In other words, don’t micromanage or force them to finish their plate—we’re looking at you, veggie pushers!
According to the Infant and Toddler Forum, which is led by various experts in pediatric healthcare, appetites at this state can greatly vary based on height and activity level and will likely change from day-to-day or even meal-to-meal. This is why it’s especially important for your child to listen to his or her own hunger signals.
Protein: 4 thin slices of ham or 1 egg, at 2-3 servings per day
Dairy: 1/2 cup cow’s milk or 1/2 cup yogurt, at 3 servings per day
Veggies: 2 tbsp. of green beans, 4 broccoli florets or 8 celery sticks (small), at 2 servings each meal
Fruits: Half a medium banana or half a kiwi, at 1-2 servings per day (this can be subbed out for veggies only)
Grains: 4 potato wedges or 4 tbsp. of mashed potatoes, at 1 serving per day
It’s all about presentation and exploration with kiddos this age. If the food looks different or has added spices, they might not be inclined to try it. Experiment with different shapes, but stick to familiar base foods, and most importantly, make it fun!
Early Childhood (5 to 8 years)Variety. Variety. Variety. This stage is where you can get really experimental with meals and add more spice and flavor. Try foods from different cultures and push past the same ol’ kids’ chicken fingers and apple slices you’ll find at most restaurants. Your kids will welcome the new foods.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests upgrading to full portions of fruits and veggies at this age, such as a whole banana, apple and handful of grapes. For proteins, fill a quarter of the plate with beans, legumes or a lean meat. Avoid foods high in sugar, especially sodas. Water is encouraged at the dinner table!
Protein: 2-3 ounces of meat or 1/2 cup cooked beans, at 2 servings per day
Dairy: 1 cup yogurt or 1 oz. cheese, at 3 servings per day
Veggies: 1 cup salad or 1/2 cup cooked carrots or broccoli, at 3 servings per day
Fruits: 1 medium banana or 1/2 cup pure fruit juice, at 2-3 servings per day (this can be subbed out for veggies only)
Grains: 1/2 cup cooked pasta or 1 slice whole-wheat toast, at 1 serving per day
Switch up the menu and try something more creative, while still incorporating their favorites. Don’t sweat it if they don’t like all their veggies. Those more prone to a sweet tooth will still latch onto sweet corn, carrots, tomato sauces and stir-fry vegetables.
The Best Hot Beverages to Drink After a Cold Run
Many of us can't start the day without a cup of Joe, but besides waking you up, research suggests there is also a bevy of health benefits. Coffee has been credited with everything from reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes to boosting memory. And good news, runners—coffee may even help with recovery by reducing muscle pain.Skip sweetened coffee drinks and try sipping it black, or for some extra nutrients, opt for a café au lait, which is half steamed milk and half fresh coffee. If you find yourself dragging after a long or tough run, a cup of coffee might be just what you need to get through the day.
According to a paper published by Harvard University, green tea is rich in plant compounds called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids may help lower inflammation and reduce plaque build-up in your arteries, leading to a lower risk of heart disease. And if you're sensitive to caffeine, good news—a cup of green tea only has about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
This Argentine version of hot chocolate is easy to make and surprisingly delicious—simply add a square of dark chocolate to a mug of hot milk and stir until dissolved. If you use low-fat cow's milk, you'll get 8 grams of protein, a hefty dose of vitamin D and antioxidants from the dark chocolate—all important for post-run recovery.
Golden Milk Turmeric Tea
This bright orange beverage contains a combination of turmeric and ginger, which are potent anti-inflammatories. It also contains a number of other nutritional powerhouses, such as coconut oil, honey and black pepper.Want to try making golden milk turmeric tea for yourself? Epicurious has a well-tested recipe.
Golden Milk Turmeric Tea, from Epicurious.com
Ingredients, makes two servings:
Whisk coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, honey, coconut oil, peppercorns and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon.
Note: Golden milk can be made five days ahead. Store in an airtight container and chill. Warm before serving.
Chaga Mushroom Tea
Chaga mushrooms are native to Canada and the northern United States and are often found growing on birch trees. These special fungi contain high levels of antioxidants, have been shown to support the immune system and some studies suggest they may even decrease cancer risk.Chaga mushrooms are often sold powdered and can be mixed with hot water or your choice of milk to make a tea-like drink.
What we think of as bone broth is actually a stock made from the bones and connective tissue of animals or fish. While the jury is still out on whether bone broth can boost the immune system or heal the gut, it does contain a number of amino acids and a good amount of protein—both essential for post-exercise healing. If you're looking to sip something savory that's easy on the stomach, a mug of bone broth could be your new post-run BFF.
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