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Nutrition for the Fast-Food Generation

By Linda Goldfarb
Certified Physical Fitness Specialist

CBN.comMy four children range in age from 30 down to 12. I have bookend boys with girl fillers and three grandchildren ages 10, 5, and 4. With my oldest three out of the nest, I get to focus on the day-to-day nutritional needs of my youngest son. He is entering puberty, which means his body is burning calories like a furnace devours fuel; my job is to provide quality calories for his stage of life to empower him toward excellence -physically and mentally.

Providing quality foods for our fast-food generation can be challenging but not impossible. Offering variety and restricting portion size enables us to introduce healthy foods to our children that will impact their future eating habits. Just as we teach them good hygiene by bathing and brushing our teeth daily and proper manners by encouraging “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am,” we must set guidelines they can follow to make wise choices concerning their dietary intake.

Children require a certain amount of calories every day to provide balanced energy, stamina, and enhanced brain power, but every child has different needs. How do busy parents with multiple children know who needs what?

A book I recommend for all parents is Fit Kids (Broadman & Holman Publishers) by Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., founder and president of the world-renowned Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. This book offers a complete shape-up program from birth to high school, including daily physical and nutritional application.

I want to share with you examples of balanced daily meals suggested for children from 3 to 19 years of age based on caloric need from Dr. Cooper’s book. Take a close look at portion size and the variety of foods offered. Each selection is an example of a daily menu that you can offer your child by increasing or decreasing the portions according to their needs.

When you see a menu item in quotes, that means it is a special recipe from the Fit Kids book; you can choose to offer your own version, just be careful to keep “healthy” in mind. You may want to substitute soy- or rice-based products for the dairy items if your child is lactose sensitive (this is my suggestion not Dr. Coopers).

1,000-Calorie Daily Meal-Menu

(children 3 to 6 years old)

1/2 cup dry cereal (suggested - Cheerios, oatmeal, and Frosted Mini-Wheats)
1/4 cup skim or low-fat milk
1/2 small banana
4 ounces orange juice
Suggestion: slice banana to form shape of a happy face on dry cereal.

1 Fig Newton
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk

1/2 ham-and-cheese sandwich:
       1 slice whole wheat bread
       1/2 ounce sliced ham
       1/2 ounce American cheese
       1 tomato slice
       1 leaf of lettuce
       1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 raw carrot stick
1/4 cup grapes
4 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
Suggestion: Cut sandwich into three triangles.

After-School Snack
1 whole wheat cracker with 1 teaspoon natural peanut butter
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk

2 ounces roast turkey
4 medium oven French Fries
1/4 cup steamed peas
1 one-inch square “Corny Cornbread” (recipe in book)
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt with 2 sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup skim or low-fat milk

2,000-Calorie Daily Meal-Menu

(children  7 to 11 years old and average teenage females 12 to 19)

1 slice whole wheat toast
1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
Fruit cup:
1/4 cup fresh or canned, unsweetened pineapple chunks
1/4 cup fresh orange sections
8 ounces hot chocolate

1 turkey sandwich:
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 ounces sliced turkey
1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 slices tomato
2 lettuce leaves
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 pretzel logs
4 slices cucumber
2 fresh plums
1 cup skim milk

After-School Snack
2 one-ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks
4 whole wheat crackers
4 ounces orange juice

3 ounces turkey meat loaf
1/2 cup steamed green beans
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup carrot-raisin salad
1 country “Garden Muffin”, with 1 teaspoon margarine
1 cup skim milk

3,000-Calorie Daily Meal-Menu

(Active teenage males 12 – 19 years old)

3 slices whole wheat toast with
3 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese
9 sliced fresh strawberries
8 ounces orange juice

1 tuna salad sandwich:
2 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 cup “Charlie Tuna” Salad (water-packed tuna)
1 1/2 cups “Colorful Veggie Soup”
1 cup fresh or canned, unsweetened peach slices
1 cup oyster crackers
1 cup 2% milk

After-School Snack
1 cup trail mix
6 ounces grape juice

2 cups cooked spaghetti with tomato sauce and 4 one-ounce meatballs
1 tossed salad:
1 1/2 cups lettuce
1 tablespoon grated carrots
1/4 chopped tomato
1 tablespoon Italian dressing
1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 teaspoon margarine
1 cup vanilla pudding
1 cup 2% milk

1,500-Calorie Daily Meal-Menu

(teenage weight-control for 12 to 19 years old)

1 slice “French Toast Delight,” with 1 teaspoon powered sugar
4 fresh orange sections
1 cup skim milk

1 ounce low-fat cheddar cheese, in cubes
1 ounce part-skim mozzarella cheese, in cubes
10 whole wheat crackers
1/2 cup grapes
2 “Lunch Box Favorite Oatmeal Cookies”
4 ounces pineapple-orange juice

After-School Snack
8 ounces “Strawberry Smoothie”

3 ounces “Special Fried Chicken” (skinless breast meat – baked)
1/2 cup “Country Red Potato Salad”
3 fresh steamed asparagus spears
1/2 cup sliced cantaloupe
1 cup skim milk

I highly suggest you sit down with your children and pour out serving portions so they can see the exact amounts suggested to keep their bodies in fit condition. When we consume the same food every day in large quantities, we gain fat, but when we eat the right balance—a variety of foods in proportion to our physical needs—the result will be a finely tuned machine able to carry out daily activities to the best of its ability.

Join with me in encouraging healthy habits in our children so they can live long and prosper.

Linda GoldfarbLinda Goldfarb is a certified physical fitness specialist, speaker, and syndicated radio talk show host. You can download her weekly “Not Just Talkin’ the Talk” radio broadcasts, a one hour variety talk show based out of San Antonio, Texas, at Linda’s show encourages listeners to “walk the walk” spiritually, physically, and relationally each and every day. Contact Linda to speak at your next event: (Photo Copyright © Lisa Pittman Photography).   

NOTE: Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease.  It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from  books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.


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