You are here

Mealtime Makeovers

  • Fernando: Full at Mealtimes

    Fernando Plata, 3, of Miami dawdles at dinner. Lunch and breakfast as well. "He eats very slowly," says his father, Ignacio. He just doesn't seem to be hungry enough to eat much of his meals, Ignacio says. When his mom, Patricia, tries to speed up the pace, mealtime can get tense.

    Like his younger brother, 1-year-old Daniel, Fernando still drinks milk from a bottle, yet he's mastered drinking from a cup. "Even though we don't think he eats a lot," says Ignacio, "his doctor says he's doing fine."

    Problems  -- and solutions. Fernando's not hungry because he drinks too much! He consumes 18 ounces of whole milk (often with cereal added) from the bottle every day  -- plus lots of fruit juice and soft drinks. Frequent snacking with large portions  -- a big bowlful of Goldfish (270 calories) plus a cup of Gatorade (60 calories)  -- also suppresses his mealtime appetite. Over time, this dietary pattern could contribute to a weight problem.

    Fernando eats fast-food hamburgers frequently, which helps him meet his dietary needs for iron and zinc, and all that milk gives more than twice the necessary calcium. But the high-fat foods give him too much saturated fat, not to mention excess protein and calories. It's time to break the bottle habit, for developmental as well as dental reasons; later, he can switch to low-fat milk. Eating smaller, more nutritious snacks (such as whole-wheat pretzels or half a sandwich on whole wheat) would help enhance nutrition without squelching his desire for meals.

    One month later. Fernando's off sugary soft drinks and downs no more than about four ounces of juice (a half cup) twice a day. Instead of chips and crackers, he snacks on child-size portions of yogurt. He's also eating more whole-grain cereals. His appetite at mealtime has improved.

    Breaking the bottle habit will have to wait until the Platas return from a long overseas vacation  -- Fernando's parents don't want to try such a big change until they're back home. He's also still very fond of high-fat fast-food meals.


    Fernando's Typical Day




    • Bottle: 8 oz whole milk mixed with 2 tablespoons oatmeal-banana cereal




    • 4 mini-waffles with 2 tablespoons syrup


    • 1/2 cup Fruit Loops and 4 oz whole milk




    • 2 oz Goldfish crackers (about 100)


    • 1 cup Gatorade




    • 1 cup homemade vegetable soup with 2 oz chicken


    • 2 fast-food chicken nuggets


    • 1/2 small order of fast-food French fries


    • 1/2 cup soft drink


    • 1/2 cup cubed melon




    • 1 cup homemade vegetable soup with 2 oz chicken


    • 1 cup macaroni and cheese


    • 2 slices of kiwifruit




    • Bottle: 6 oz whole milk mixed with 2 tablespoons oatmeal-banana cereal
  • comments