Friday, January 9, 2009

Tater tots

Facebook is an amazing social site, and things pop up on it all the time, mostly trying to sell you a celebrity diet or mortgage info. But as I was playing Scramble last night, an ad from Gerber Foods came up.

Three people were asked what vegetable did toddlers eat most. They replied with "peas," "carrots" and "broccoli," which seemed pretty normal. But the answer was "french fries." The three people, each in turn, looked dismayed. As someone who attempts to eat at least five fruits and vegetables every day, and goes to bed happy when I manage nine, I was deeply saddened by this.

Here are some other toddler nutrition concerns from the Gerber-financed, Mathematica-produced Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) in 2002:

Fruits and vegetables. Nearly 25% of babies and toddlers age 9 to 24 months don't eat any fruits or vegetables on a given day. And french fries are the most commonly consumed vegetable for toddlers 15 to 24 months. Make it a goal to feed your toddler at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruit and vegetable intake can be from fresh, frozen, or canned foods. You can also serve puree varieties, as they provide the same important nutrients as fresh.

Fiber. Fiber is important for digestive health, but research found that 90% of toddlers don't get the recommended amount of fiber. Giving your toddler more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help her meet her fiber needs.

Vitamin E. At this stage 58% of children have vitamin E intakes below the recommended level. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean), avocado, and some leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli).

Potassium. Children at this milestone are missing out on potassium, an electrolyte that helps muscles work properly. In fact, 90% of toddlers aren't getting the recommended amount.

Fat. Healthy fats are important for growth and brain development. But studies show that 25% of toddlers don't get enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, and many don't get enough of the antioxidant vitamin E found in fats.

Sodium. Babies as young as 7 to 8 months are being introduced to salty snacks such as chips. By the time your child is a toddler, there may be room for an occasional treat. But there really isn't room for these foods daily, because they don't offer the needed nutrition for the calories. All of the foods in your toddler's healthy meal plan should be selected from a variety of foods that provide needed nutrients: peeled mashed fruits or vegetables, dairy foods, whole grains, and meats or mashed beans.

1 comment: