Healthy Eating for Proper Growth – March 2011

Did you know that, in the United States, obesity is nearly becoming an epidemic? Research shows that almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half of them get too little exercise.

According to Samantha Stern, training and development director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Many people aren’t aware that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has revised its dietary guidelines to recommend that all Americans eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Department is also strongly encouraging everyone to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure that your entire family is adhering to these important guidelines.”

Fruits and Vegetables

According to the USDA, adults should be eating two and one-half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits daily. Children’s daily recommendations, which vary depending on the age and sex of the child, can be found on the website

The USDA is also recommending that Americans consume more dark-green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach that are rich in antioxidants and usually have large amounts of phytochemicals like vitamin C. Orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are also important for providing antioxidants, vitamin A, and fiber. Additionally, the Department says it’s beneficial to eat lots of dry beans such as pinto beans, kidney beans, peas, and lentils. These can be excellent in preventing diabetes and lowering the risk of heart disease.

Stern says if you are looking for a no fat, low-calorie snack option for your family, fruits and vegetables are a great option. “A small bowl of cut-up strawberries or carrot sticks can offer a healthy mid-morning or afternoon boost when you or your children need it.”

Healthy Grains

The USDA’s new dietary guidelines recommend that adults eat at least six ounces of grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day, and that at least three ounces be made with whole grains. Children’s daily recommendations can be found on the website

Stern says good snack options from this category include whole-grain cereals or granola. She says to avoid the popular non-whole grain kids’ snack crackers that are processed and are high in calories without quality nutritional value.

Dairy Foods

Since we live in America’s Dairyland where wonderful dairy options are abundant, Stern recommends that we exercise caution with how much dairy we consume daily. The USDA says adults should be having three cups of milk every day, and children ages two to eight should be having two cups every day.

If you want a snack from this category, Stern recommends a small portion of low-fat cheese served with other healthy foods such as grapes, cucumbers, and whole grain crackers. She also recommends that you serve low-fat yogurt instead of the children’s yogurt that often has a lot of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in it.

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Meats and Beans

According to the USDA, adults should be eating five and one-half ounces of low-fat or lean meat and poultry daily. Children’s daily recommendations can be found on The Department also recommends that you vary your protein routine and include more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds, since raising animals for food purposes puts a huge strain on our world’s ecosystem.

Ebenezer Child Care Center’s Mequon Center, located at 10333 N. Enterprise Dr., Mequon, will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Nutrition For Healthy Growth” on Wednesday, March 9th, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Your child’s nutrition is important to her overall health. Proper nutrition can prevent many medical problems including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to her full potential. Come and learn more about nutrition for healthy growth as you participate in the following activities: creating a fruit and vegetable collage, serving up healthy meals in the dramatic play area, and making a healthy trail mix. In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us!

Registration is required. Please call Ebenezer Child Care Center’s main office at 414-643-5070 to register.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally-based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart.

The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere, individualized, nurturing care, and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers a variety of free Family Fun Nights and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at