I have several toddler parents who are concerned about their two year olds weight. They have asked me to only give one serving of fruit at lunch and no bread. These children are so hungry by lunch time and they love the fruit especially. We serve canned fruit packed in water. Is this OK or should I be saying no to second helpings? Do two year olds need to be on diets?
It is never too early to encourage children to make healthy food choices, but using the term diet is not ideal. Instead of limiting the number of helpings, limit the availability of nutrient-poor foods that are high in sugar, salt or fat. Fruits or vegetables should be a part of every meal and snack, but it is important to offer a variety of types and colors to keep kids interested. Canned fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice (instead of syrup) is a healthy option if fresh fruit is not available. In addition, always serve water with meals and snacks and have water readily available for kids to drink. For additional suggestions on healthy eating options for kids, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ or http://www.letsmove.gov/.
Seema Csukas, M.D., Ph.D.