Meal Patterns

In November of 2010, the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies released new nutritional standards which highlight nutrition science and dietary guidelines. The report builds on existing requirements for meals, such as specifying a minimum amount of foods in each meal and excluding soft drinks and candy. The report also calls for each meal to include one serving of fruit and two of vegetables and for the amount of dark green and orange vegetables served each week to increase while limiting starchy vegetables to no more than twice a week. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried forms are all acceptable. Vegetables may be cooked any way except fried, which is known to carry carcinogenic agents. Juice should be 100 percent fruit juice without added sugars, should not be given to children less than a year old, and should be limited to once a day for older toddlers and preschoolers.

In addition, at least half of the grain products served to young children should be rich in whole grains. Baked or fried grain products that are high in fat and added sugars would be allowed only once a week if at all. Foods and ingredients that are high in sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars should be limited or eliminated; controlling fats and added sugars will help keep calories in check. Vegetable oils and limited amounts of salt should be used when preparing meals. If serving meats, they should be lean, although soy products, beans, eggs, nuts, nut butters and other meat alternatives are encouraged.

Healthy infants should receive only breast milk or formula until they reach six months, when baby foods or pureed foods can be gradually introduced. Nursing infants should be allowed to continue to nurse until at least 2 years of age. Non-nursing infants are recommended to have a plant-based milk mixture. Ideally, though, coconut and almond products should be substituted for dairy milk and cheese products. Do you need a recipe for a milk or formula replacement? Email us.