Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Make a Change to Save Change -- Dairy Tips & Giveaway

Part of being successful and independent at school is making sure that our kids get the nutrition they need each day. The Midwest Dairy Council is challenging parents to consider easy food changes that help address nutrition deficiencies without breaking the bank. In other words, make a change by consuming more dairy products, which helps to save change in your wallet, and ensures your family isn't short-changed on nutrition.

I was lucky enough to be able to send some questions to a dietitian to get more information on dairy products and how important they are for your child's health. Answers were graciously provided by:

Melissa Joy Dobbins MS, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian
Midwest Dairy Council – National Dairy Council
Illinois Dietetic Association Spokesperson

1. How much calcium should the average 3-5 year old be getting on a regular basis?

Children ages 1-3 need 500 milligrams per day which is 3 child size servings (i.e. 6 ounces of milk instead of 8 ounces) and children ages 4-8 need 800 milligrams of calcium per day which is 3 servings (adult-sized).

2. Besides calcium, what do dairy products have to offer growing kids?

Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide a powerful package of 9 essential nutrients including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified five “nutrients of concern” for children. These nutrients play important roles in overall health and disease prevention, yet most children aren’t getting enough of them. Together, dairy foods supply three of the five “nutrients of concern” for which children have low intakes: calcium, potassium and magnesium (other two are vitamin E and fiber).

3. How much dairy should 3-5 year olds be consuming on a daily basis?

Children ages 2 – 8 are encouraged to consume 2 cups of milk or equivalent milk products each day, as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This may be provided as three child-size servings of dairy foods to add up to a total of 2 cups of dairy foods or equivalent.

4. What are some ways to ensure that kids are getting the right amount of dairy? Be sure to offer your child at least one serving of milk, cheese or yogurt at each meal/snack and monitor how much they are eating. If your child prefers one type of dairy product over another, make sure you offer it more often. My 9 year old loves milk and cheese. My 17 month old likes milk but really loves yogurt. Each child will have their own preferences.

5. We know a lot of picky eaters. Any tips on getting these kids to eat more dairy? Research shows that sometimes you need to offer a new food to your child about 15 times before they “warm up” to it. Don’t force the food on them, but continue to offer it at the beginning of the meal when they are hungry and/or thirsty and eventually they will try it. Most children love some form of dairy, whether it is milk, cheese or yogurt, so you can feel confident that they are getting important nutrients no matter which dairy food they prefer.

6. Where can parents find easy recipes that incorporate dairy products? The Midwest Dairy Council offers many recipes and snack ideas for busy families. You can visit and also and browse the recipes and tips. I guarantee you will find some new family favorites!

So, now that you know a little bit more about how dairy can help with your child's nutritional needs, how about a fun giveaway? We are giving away a great bundle that includes:
  • 3-a-Day Dairy drawstring bag
  • 3-a-Day Dairy magnetic tracker
  • Dairy Makes Sense coupon holder
  • 2 coupons from Deans
  • $25 gift card to Jewel to stock up on milk, cheese, and yogurt

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post. If you are from another Independence classroom, please be sure to leave your child's first name AND your teacher's name so I know who you are! Please leave your comments by October 15th, and then I will draw a winner!

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