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Calorie Intake for Children | Med-Health.net

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Calorie Intake for Children (4-18 Years Old)

There is no doubt that getting kids to eat right is a struggle. Every parent worries whether their child is eating too much or too little. This article helps take away some of the mystery and gives helpful tips on how to help your kids get in the required amount of calories they need each day.

Balanced Diet Plan for Children

When you are planning meals for your family, it is important to remember they need enough calories for energy and the hard work of growing. The whole family can stay healthy with food choices that include low-fat, low-sugar and low-salt without having to stick to a strict diet. So, what is a well balanced diet plan when considering calorie intake for children? Here're 4 main food groups that you need to include:

1. Fats

Healthy fats are important as long as they are unsaturated fats, including nuts, fresh water fish, avocado and vegetable oil. It can be tricky to get kids to eat fish. Try new recipes to see how they like to eat it!

2. Grains

Kids need carbohydrates for energy. Try whole grain cereal over processed cereal. Granola in yogurt is a tasty choice that helps fit in both grains and dairy together. Whole grain tortillas make fun sandwich wraps and whole wheat pasta is just as tasty as white pasta.

3. Fruits and Vegetables

Practice “five a day” with fruits and vegetables. Try to limit fruit juices as they provide large amounts of sugar. You can always add fruit as a side dish with meals and cut-up veggies for a snack.

4. Dairy

Kids need dairy products, but try to give them low-fat versions. Offer servings of things like yogurt dip with apples, whole grain crackers with cheese, milk on granola cereal, and cottage cheese.

Recommended Calorie Intake for Children

Recommended by American Heart Association, calorie intake for children should come from a variety of healthy sources in the amounts shown in the table below: 

Calorie Intake for Boys

Age Group

Calories (kcal/d)

Fat           (% kcal/d)

Dairy

 

Grains

 

Vegetables

 

Fruits

Meat & Beans

4-8 years

1400

25 – 35 %

2 Cups

5 oz.

1.5 Cups

1.5 Cups

4 oz.

9-13 years

1800

25 – 35 %

3 Cups

6 oz.

2.5 Cups

1.5 Cups

5 oz.

14-18 years

2200

25 – 35 %

3 Cups

7 oz.

3 Cups

2 Cups

6 oz.

Calorie Intake for Girls

Age Group

Calories

(kcal/d)

Fat

(% kcal/d)

Dairy

Grains

Vegetables      

Fruits

Meat & Beans

4-8 years

1200

25 -35%

2 Cups

4 oz.

1 Cup

1.5 Cups

3 oz.

9-13 years

1600

25 -35%

3 Cups

5 oz.

2 Cups

1.5 Cups

5 oz.

14-18 years

1800

25 -35%

3 Cups

6 oz.

2.5 Cups

1.5 Cups

5 oz.

Healthy Habits to Prompt a Healthy Life

There're more things to consider when making diet plan for the children and family. Besides following recommendations on calorie intake for children, the best way to get kids to eat and live healthy is to see their parents living healthy. The following tips can help families eat right and stay fit together.

  • Skip soda. Try to offer kids water, herbal iced tea, or lemon water instead of soda. If you drink soda, keep them to smaller servings instead of the large ones.
  • Journal foods, feelings and exercise. Keep a food diary of your meals and snacks. If you eat to cope with emotions, note that in your diary. Note any exercise for the day.
  • Avoid stress-eating. If you find in your journal that you eat to cope with daily stress, try different coping activities like taking a walk or exercising.
  • Shop after meals. Make sure you go shopping for food after you having a meal. This will prevent you from over buying junk foods.
  • Eat as a family. Eat together at the same time, preferably at the kitchen table. This will help you focus on your meal and your family time. Encourage kids to stop eating when they feel full and do not force them to “clean their plates”, which can encourage over-eating.