Fit Kids and Food Smarts
Your child’s fitness and nutrition is very important to us
At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we’re dedicated to the ongoing health and well-being of your child,
which to a large degree involves fitness and nutrition. We often get questions from our parents concerning
their children’s exercise level or eating habits, and we’d like to share some of our knowledge in this area.
We’d also like to encourage you to come to us with any concerns you might have about your
child’s weight, physical activity, diet and approach to certain foods (overindulgence or
avoidance). We’ve helped many parents raise kids over the years and we’re ready to help you
with yours, with the latest information, advice and guidance.
When kids are physically fit, they do better academically
We all know that kids are healthier when they get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, get
enough sleep and avoid risky behaviors. Now researchers have found that middle school students
in good physical shape scored better than their less-fit classmates on standardized tests and took
home better report cards. Their report concludes that the smartest kids are often also the ones in
best physical shape.
What does this mean for you and your child? Not only is fitness a crucial part of children’s
health and well-being, it can also set them up for future success. Fit kids are more likely to be fit
adults, and now we’re seeing that fitness is also tied to academic achievement. Whenever you
can, encourage your child to exercise and possibly participate in sports.
Healthy foods, healthy kids
Just as important as physical fitness is to your child’s health, so are the foods he/she eats. Nutrition is
the building block for a healthy child, and the more you know, the better you can provide smart, healthful
choices. For guidance, we have an on-staff nutritionist who can help you and your child make smart, healthy
choices about food, calories and nutrition.
Your child should consume a variety of foods from the five major food groups that make up the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Food Pyramid.” Each food group supplies important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
Here are the five groups and typical servings:
- Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day. Suggestions: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables, ¾ cup of vegetable juice or ½ cup of other vegetables, chopped raw or cooked.
- Fruits: 2-4 servings per day. Suggestions: ½ cup of sliced fruit, ¾ cup of fruit juice, or a medium-size whole fruit, like an apple, banana or pear.
- Bread, cereal, or pasta: 6-11 servings per day. Each serving should equal 1 slice of bread, ½ cup of rice or pasta or 1 ounce of cereal.
- Protein foods: 2-3 servings of 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish per day.
- Vegetarian alternatives: ½ cup of cooked dry beans, one egg, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for each ounce of lean meat.
- Dairy products: 2-3 servings per day of 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt or 1½ ounces of natural cheese.