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Nutrition Tips from a Pediatrician by Bianca Shagrin, MD

Bianca Shagrin, MDDuring your child’s well visits from birth through the teenage years, pediatricians are interested in learning about how your child is growing and developing. Having good nutrition is a foundation for learning in school, participating in outside school activities and having a positive body image.

Here are some simple ways that you can set up a healthy lifestyle for your child and whole family.

  • Avoid juice! Although juice can be a source of vitamins, this does not outweigh the negative effects of fructose sugar on the body. Studies show that the way the body processes juice is very different from the way we digest whole fruit. Drinking juice is a major source of unneeded calories for many children. If you can keep juice out of the fridge you can avoid conflict over monitoring how much your kids drink. Pack a water bottle when going out.
  • Try going for a walk a few times each week with your child. We often think of exercise as something that needs to be vigorous or involve equipment, such as a gym or joining a team sport. Research shows that incorporating walking into your family’s lifestyle is a great form of exercise. Try walking to school with your child, taking public transportation rather than driving, or running errands on foot.
  • Be aware of portion sizes. Sometimes it helps for parents to plate food with reasonable portions onto children’s plates rather than having kids serve themselves. A toddler’s portion size is ¼ that of an adult’s. For example a serving of vegetables may be only 1-2 tablespoons.
  • Think ahead and have some healthy snacks on hand. This is a great way to avoid buying junk food because it is the only food available. Here are a few snacks that are easy to prepare and can be eaten on the go:
    • Sliced fruit and vegetables- cut apples pack easily and are a great source of fiber
    • dried fruit
    • whole wheat bread- adding peanut butter adds protein and keeps kids full for longer
    • yogurts
    • hard boiled eggs
    • nuts – a great source of protein, just use caution as they can be a choking risk in young children

If you are interested in thinking about ways to make healthy changes in your child and family’s lifestyle, consider bringing this up with your child’s pediatrician or family provider. We are happy to discuss this with you at any visit.

Dr. Shagrin is accepting new pediatric patients. Please contact the CHA Doctor Finder Service at 617-665-1305 if you would like to schedule an appointment.