Does a Healthy Diet for My Preschooler Include Fat?

kid eating apple

Dietary recommendations tend to change over the years as more research is done into foods and ways the human body uses and stores them. You may be surprised to learn that some preschool diet “no-no’s” are now back on the recommended list.

The Latest on Fats

Fats should be included in your preschooler’s diet, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. For years, it was thought that fat was the cause of rising numbers of obese children and adults, but this concept has been laid to rest.

Fats are a healthy part of the diet and are critical for normal growth and brain development. Healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and butter should be used in cooking to make food more flavorful. In addition, protein foods containing fats (like salmon, yogurt, and whole milk) should be part of a balanced diet.

The fats that do need to be eliminated from the diet are trans fats found in heavily processed foods. Look for “partially hydrogenated oils” or “vegetable shortening” on food labels, and avoid those foods.

Healthy Uses of Fats

A balanced meal for your preschooler might include a protein like fish or chicken that is prepared with olive oil or butter, along with a serving of roasted sweet potato with a pat of butter and a green vegetable that is sautéed or topped with a healthy fat. A small serving of fresh cut-up vegetables and a fruit dessert round out the menu.

Snacks and Fat

You may have discovered that your child is not satisfied for long after a snack of processed foods relatively high in sugar and salt but labeled low- or non-fat. A better alternative is to select foods that contain healthy fats (cheese, nut butters, hummus, yogurt) in combination, such as:

  • Apple slices dipped in peanut or almond butter
  • Cheese cubes with wheat crackers
  • Hummus with raw vegetables
  • Yogurt and fresh fruit

We welcome your questions about balanced, healthy diets and your preschooler’s eating habits! Give us a call or discuss the subject with your health care provider when you visit 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers.

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24/7 Pediatric Care Centers are Jacksonville pediatricians, Jacksonville Beach pediatricians, and Fleming Island pediatricians providing care for children from newborn to 18 years. Our 24-hour office also provides services for non-life-threatening illnesses to registered patients 24 hours a day.

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