Fueling Good

The Expert Nutrition Blog

Are Your Kids Eating Enough Whole Grains?

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Do your kids turn up their noses if you serve them nutritious foods? It can be easy to get discouraged as a parent and throw in the towel when trying to feed your child nutritious food because the last thing we want is an argument. But please don’t give up! First things first, take the pressure off the dinner table and relax. Feel confident that the nutrition choices you make as a parent can impact your child’s health and weight for a lifetime. Fill your plate up with the good stuff to show them how fun and normal nutritious eating can be!

One food fight that is common in families is going whole grain. The USDA recommends making {at least} half of their grain choices whole grains (1). But how much do kids need? Children ages 2-3 need about 3 ounce equivalents of grains per day. 4-8 year olds need 5 ounce equivalents per day, and teens need 5-8 ounce equivalents per day, with boys being on the higher end (2). A one ounce equivalent of grains is equivalent to 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of ready to eat cereal, or ½ cup cooked rice, pasta or cooked cereal. If your kids play sports they will likely need to eat a bit more.

"Children ages 2-3 need about 3 ounce equivalents of grains per day. 4-8 year olds need 5 ounce equivalents per day, and teens need 5-8 ounce equivalents per day, with boys being on the higher end."

Your kids may have become accustomed to white bread and enriched pastas and cereals, and now you’re trying to make the switch to serve more nutritious meals. While this may not be a painless process, I’ll show you how to make the transition easier. Start with lunch!

Nutritious Sandwich Tips for the Lunch Box

Add color. We usually think lettuce, tomato or onion to color sandwiches, but that might not be your child’s first choice. Use a few slices of avocado instead of mayo, or add grapes or raisins to chicken salad. Skip the jelly and layer in fresh bananas, strawberries and granola for crunch.

Make it fun. Get out the cookie cutters and let your kids play with their food. Get them to assemble their sandwich with their favorite ingredients and teach them to press them into cute shapes. This simple activity can create positive feelings about lunchtime and trying new foods because they take some ownership.

Vary the bread. Keep your child interested in lunch by thinking outside the traditional bread. Often when we think of whole grains, wheat is what comes to mind—but getting whole grain nutrition into your kid’s tummies can come in other forms like oats, barley, brown rice, and rye like in Brownberry Whole Grains 12 Grain Bread. Learn more about these other whole grain ingredients.

Do you have tips for getting whole grains into your child’s diet? Please share with us on Facebook.