TODAY   |  April 09, 2014

Healthy food choices for kids of all ages

Dietitian Manuel Villacorta of NBC News’ and TODAY health and diet editor Madelyn Fernstrom share advice about foods that will give your kids the right nutrients at every age, and suggest healthy snack options they’ll enjoy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all parents want their kids to eat healthy, but do you know how much your child is supposed to be eating every day?

>> stop worrying. we have a guideline to take you from pre-k to the 12th grade .

>> manuel is a registered dietitian for toolkit sponsored by pierson.

>> and madeline bernstrom is a health and diet editor. welcome to you both. this is a smart segment. so we're trying to figure out what our kids need through the years.

>> starting with pre-k.

>> right. and requirements are different. don't ruin your kid. parents, your lives are already over with eating.

>> hey, your lives are over.

>> we enjoy a meal or two still, right?

>> what does a little kid need from ages 4 to 8. this is a plate -- this is a typical meal for them. okay? and you want to avoid the clean plate club . if this is too much, don't force them to finish. but they need to get more requirements, an additional serving a day of each.

>> let's talk fats.

>> fats are so important, brain development , growth, you know. and so many other things. and we have some healthy things here. let's watch allergies. walnuts.

>> a lot of kids do have those nut allergies.

>> almond, avocado, put it on a sandwich, it's delicious.

>> what about tuna fish in the middle, let them scoop it out.

>> then we have iron foods. kids run the risk for iron deficiency .

>> really? little kids, you don't think about that.

>> they need iron foods like beans and dried foods and of course broccoli. but what kid eats broccoli?

>> not many.

>> this is where role models come into play. every time i'm around, my nephew is eating broccoli.

>> man up. okay.

>> because kids don't eat a lot of meat. i know this is a new kind of beef jerky which is called krave with a "k" because it comes in flavors like black cherry and barbecue. kids don't really like a lot of fruits or dried fruits , they're like potato chips but they're fruit. also with little kids, don't force them to eat. you may need to talk to your pediatrician. they may need to have a vitamin, which is not a bad thing.

>> what is this, middle school ?

>> can i have this plate, please?

>> yes.

>> we're going to compare. here's our 4 to 8. then we're going to look at the big kids . the middle schoolers are somewhere in between.

>> yes. so here we have now 9 through 13. growth spurts . they're more hungry. they really want to eat. you know, girls are age 10, they're hungrier.

>> they're going into puberty.

>> you want to have healthy snacks throughout. let's have options like sweet potato fries and greek yogurt and fruit. you want to have options and things they can pick and eat.

>> and it's important for them to eat when they're hungry, not when you're hungry.

>> you want to keep them on a schedule, though.

>> yeah.

>> that's true, too.

>> structuring and then having some snacks around really helps.

>> so now we have here 14 to 18.

>> this is a typical meal for them.

>> the thing here now, they're socializing. they're skipping meals all the time.

>> they're dieting, unfortunately.

>> they are.

>> dieting, eating is not a priority anymore.

>> what should they do?

>> what we need to do is have healthy options again. big knack snacks on the go and go back to family time. set up rules. in the morning, sit down, eat with the family.

>> thank you. madeline, thank you.

>> thank you.