Doernbecher Children's Hospital

Eating Well

Healthy habits for children and adults

Vitality through variety

Maintaining a healthy weight means more than just getting regular exercise. It’s also a matter of healthful eating habits. Children need a wide variety of foods for good health, including fruits and vegetables, low fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and whole grains.

Where do I start?

A little girl smiling holding a bowl full of vegetables.

Once you have decided to make healthy choices in your eating habits, it can be overwhelming to make many changes all at the same time. Starting with one or two goals can have a big impact and is manageable for most families. Over time, as these changes become habits, you can add additional goals.
Here are some examples of initial goals:

  • Eliminate juice, soda, and other sugar- sweetened beverages.
  • Stick with one plate of food at meals. If second helpings are desired, have them come from the fruit and vegetable group.
  • Serve meals on smaller sized plates.
  • Decrease restaurant eating by one visit per month. Example: If you eat out four times per month, reduce to three times per month.
  • Aim for five fruits and vegetables every day

Did you know?

  • One 20oz bottle of soda contains approximately 18 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A McDonald’s Big Mac contains 740 calories and 29 grams of fat compared to a plain hamburger which has 250 calories and 9 grams of fat. For an 8 year old female who may need 1400 calories in a day, this is more than half of her calorie needs. And we didn’t even count the french fries!
  • Ordering a sandwich without mayonnaise can save approximately 100-150 calories and 10-17 grams of fat. Dress up your sandwich with plain mustard or ketchup

How much is too much?

What seems like an average or small portion to an adult is often much too large for a child. Generally speaking, a person’s stomach can contain about as much food as his or her hand can hold.