Why kids don’t need 3 meals a day, plus 2 more big kid feeding fables
With so much conflicting information out there, figuring out what and how to feed your kids these days is confusing. Below, William Sears, M.D., tackles the most confounding kid-food conundrums.
Kids need to eat three square meals a day. Nope. In fact, grazing, or eating a few small meals throughout the day, is a very healthy way to eat (and that goes for parents, too). Plus, it comes naturally to kids, who can’t hold as much food in their stomachs at one time as adults. A slow-and-steady schedule of meals and snacks keeps their blood-sugar levels, energy, and moods on a more even keel. So if they don’t clean their plates at lunch, don’t stress; they’ll want the leftovers in a couple of hours.
Sugar is bad. Actually, it really depends on the type. There’s a wide spectrum of carbohydrates (the other name for sugar), and those that are complex (veggies, whole grains, legumes) are always recommended. Complex carbs are digested slowly and act like a time-released capsule of energy. Fruits and dairy products (which contain lactose, another form of sugar) are also good choices. It’s the simple sugars — table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in candy, cookies, soft drinks, and packaged treats — that are responsible for that dreaded crash and burn. These are the ones worth limiting.
Children should eat from each food group every day. The fact is, kids have ever-changing taste preferences. One week they may eat pasta and tomato sauce, while the next they shun it for peanut-butter crackers. Doesn’t matter. As long as their diets balance out over the course of a month — not a day — they’ll be on the right track.