My four year old won't eat meat and never has. How much protein should we make sure he gets daily and should we be giving him a supplement?
Thank you for your question. Now that I am a mama its hard for me to wrap my hand around all the fine details of feeding a little one. I am grateful that many of you are asking questions pertaining to children so I can be on top of things not only as a Dietitian but as a mama.
Protein is a part of the food that helps our body grow and helps it heal when its sick. Its recommended that 1-3 year old have ~16 grams a day or 1.2 g/kg of body weight and 4-6 year old ~24 grams/day or 1.1 g/kg body weight. To find out exactly how many grams of protein your little guy needs multiply is body weight by 1.1.
Wt: 40 lb
40 lb / 2.2 = 18 kg
18 kg * 1.1 = 19.4 g or protein a day
So how do you get through the day not counting and measuring out every little bite he has to make sure he is getting his protein. Well its easy Eating well with Canada's food guide is designed in a way that if you eat the correct amount of servings for your age and gender you will be meeting all your daily nutrient needs.
The two food groups that contain "the most" protein are the milk and alternative group and the meat and alternative group.
Milk and Alternatives include:
1 cup milk or chocolate milk
3/4 cup yogurt
1 1/2 oz of cheese
1/2 cup pudding made with milk
As long as your little guys consumes two from this list (more can be found at the food guide web site) then he is on the right track.
Now for the meat and alternatives. "Non" meat choices include:
3/4 cup of beans
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup of nuts.
For a four year old boy its recommended that he consume 1 choice from the meat and alternatives.
After reading this and you are thinking well I am still not sure if he is getting enough protein here are some ways you can boost that level; without him knowing.
- Use milk (whole and powder) in soups, sauces, puddings, shakes and hot chocolate
- Grate cheese into sauces, soups, casseroles, pasta. Add to sandwiches and pour over vegetables.
- Mix yogurt with granola, cereal, fruit. Use in smoothies
- Serve boiled eggs as a snack or serve an egg breakfast once a week.
- Enjoy peanut butter on crackers, breads, fruit and celery
- Nuts and seeds: Use in baked goods, stirfrys, salads, and trail mix.
Grilled fruit and cheese sandwich
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 slices of cheese
5 thin slices of apple of pear
1 tsp margarine
Place bread slice on cutting board. Place one cheese slice on bread, top with fruit slices and then the other piece of bread, then spread outside of sandwich lightly with margarine on both sides. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add sandwich, cover and cook for 3 minutes or until underside becomes golden brown. With a spatula, turn sandwich over and cook until second side is browned and cheese starts to melt.
1 sandwich contains 16.4 g protein.
Peanut butter logs
1 cup skim milk powder
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup bran flakes
1/2 cup raisins
Combine all ingredients (it will take a bit of mixing), flatten into large pan. Chill overnight and cut into squares
Makes 16. One serving contains 7.3 g of protein
Peanut butter'n jelly milkshake
1 cup milk
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chocolate ice cream
3 Tbsp jelly (use your favorite)
1 tsp. vanilla
Blend all together. Makes 2 shakes. Each has 14 g of protein
Any questions can be left in the comment box or please feel free to email me
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