"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."

Getting knowledgeable about food and what effects it has on our bodies is very powerful for life long weight management.  Food is by far the most influencing factor for the size and shape we are today.  Knowing what you should eat, how much of it you should eat, and what its benefits are for your body are essential.  Food is like medicine.  By eating the right kinds of foods in the proper quantities at the right times will fuel your body efficiently and force your body to burn your unnecessary fat reserves. A foods main goal is to nourish our bodies, not make us prisoners of it. Get to know the power of Food!  Once you do - you will be in control!

Preschool Fresh Menu Planning 

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Pediatric Diet & Fitness Center:

Proper nutrition and regular exercise are important at any age, but even more critical in children. Major issues range from childhood obesity to hunger and malnutrition. While items high in refined sugar are not recommended, some artificial sweeteners may be inappropriate for children. Complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and oils also affect in childhood development.

Getting the right balance of nutrients is challenging because children’s nutritional needs will change as they grow – along with their food preferences, eating habits and activity levels. A child’s nutritional needs will vary based on age, size and metabolism, existing health conditions and other factors.

Newborn infants receive all of their nutritional requirements either through breastfeeding or formula. The age at which a child is ready for “solid” food varies. Good nutrition for children over age 2 is essentially the same as for adults, with the exception of the amount of calories required. Like adults, children need the right assortment of nutrients, vitamins (e.g., vitamin C) and minerals (e.g., calcium, iron) to grow, develop and function. Nutrients include the following:

  • Carbohydrates. The primary source of calories for the human body. Nutritional experts generally recommend that between 50 and 60 percent of an individual’s total daily calories come from carbohydrates, primarily complex carbohydrates.

  • Protein. Found in meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, eggs and dairy products. Protein is crucial to building and repairing most body tissues (e.g., muscles, skin, organs) as well as the immune system. It is generally recommended that about 10 to 20 percent of an individual’s daily calories come from protein.

  • Fats. Also called lipids, the proper amount of fat is vital to good health. Fat is part of all cell membranes and makes up the sheathing around nerves, which is important to efficient nerve conduction. It is recommended that no more than 35 percent of the daily calories in the diet of a child over age 2, adolescent or adult come from fat.

  • Fiber. A filling nutrient that helps move food through the digestive tract and prevents constipation. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and other caregivers use the MyPyramid’s nutritional guidelines as a reference to ensure that children are getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need. MyPyramid was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a dietary guideline for children, adolescents and adults. It is composed of six different-colored steps, each representing a specific food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein sources (e.g., meat, fish, beans, nuts), and fats and oils. MyPyramid also encourages regular physical activity as an essential part of any healthy dietary regimen.

A combination of good nutrition and exercise helps keep the body healthy and fit. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise can lead to numerous health problems, including obesity, malnutrition, and iron deficiency anemia.

 "Free" Fresh Menu Planning for your Family/Center site!

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(253) 591-5061


Adult Weight Management

Adult Basic Dieting Rules

  • Eat Breakfast Within (1) One Hour of Waking
  • Eat Every Three (3) Hours
  • No Eating (3) Hours Before Bed
  • Drink Water = Your Weight In Ounces
  • Portion Control/ Maximum  Calories
  • 40 % Carbs/30% Protein/30 % Fat
  • Chew Slowly, Eat Calmly

Please Eat and Whatever You Do, Please Don't Starve Yourself!!!

Should I just skip meals so I can lose weight?... 
What if I just don't eat before I work out - then my body will go for the stored fat as fuel and burn up all that fat? ...
All good questions that could make perfect sence, but let's understand what is actually going on in weight gain:
Well, let me try to make a long story short - so that you clearly understand, helping you to eat in a knowingly manner.  First, the bodies main fuel usage is carbohydrates that have been stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. When your glycogen stores are depleted, your body will indeed tap more of its fat reserves, but without that readily available main fuel, you're not likely to feel too energetic nor will you have enough strength and/or energy or enthusiasm to even complete your workout (once again, another reason not to workout).  On the other hand, if you eat before exercise, whether it's a large meal several hours in advance or a small snack only minutes ahead of time, you'll have the extra oomph you need for an energetic and effective workout, which will significantly help you to burn fat!
Here's the reason: When you consume more calories than your body can process, it stores this extra food.  But before it is tucked away in your muscles and liver as glycogen, it enters your bloodstream in the form of glucose (also called blood sugar), a readily available source of energy that helps perk you up when you're feeling hungry and fatigued.
If the glycogen stored in your muscles and liver is low, your body can rely on glucose for fuel; if you already have a fair amount of stored glycogen, your body will use the glucose as a secondary source of energy and spare the glycogen. It means that you have two sources of fuel as opposed to one, so you can last a
lot longer. But, what happens if you don't work out?  What happens to that stores glycogen (and the extra calories your body stored because you over consumed at any given meal)?

Eating at least a small snack every three hours will ward off the feelings of lightheadedness and fatigue that can make it difficult to workout effectively.  Something else you should consider is that the muscles and liver can only store so much glycogen. It's important to "top off" your reserves fairly often, even if you haven't been doing much: During a long night's sleep, the body depletes as much as 80 percent of the glycogen stored in the liver. That's why eating breakfast or something before you exercise in the morning can really help.  Moreover, it doesn't take long to deplete stored glycogen during exercise. If you're playing an intense tennis match without having eaten and it's warm outside, it may take only 30 to 40 minutes before you deplete your glycogen. Eating before a match will not only help you last a lot longer, it will also help settle the gastric juices that make your stomach growl.


Naturally, the fact that you shouldn't exercise on an empty stomach doesn't mean that you should eat a three-course meal 10 minutes before hitting the gym. In general, the closer you get to your workout start time, the fewer calories you should eat. The nutrients that make up those calories should also shift. Because it takes the body four to six hours to digest fat, about three hours to digest protein and about two hours to digest carbohydrates, it's important to bring down the protein and fat content of your meal or snack as you get closer to exercise. "You're not going to want to eat a plate of french fries two hours before working out, because the blood is going to rush to your stomach to digest that while it's also trying to rush to your exercising muscles.  So, here are a few rules of thumb to follow: If your workout is four hours away, eat a regular meal that combines protein, fat and carbohydrates, then have a small carbohydrate-rich snack closer to your exercise session to tide you over. Three hours before working out, make it a smaller meal and lighten up a bit on the protein and fat. Thirty to 90 minutes before exercise, have a snack of easily digested carbohydrates. If you only have the 15 minutes between, say, leaving your office and hitting the gym to grab something, go for a sports drink (watch the sugar content) or a few Saltine crackers. Also keep in mind that while eating high-fiber foods is important for good health, they're best eaten after exercise, since they can cause bloating and other annoyances that will make you feel uncomfortable when working out.

Based on an average adult woman of 1500 Calorie Per Day, your daily plate should consist of:

40% Carbohydrate

30% Protein

30% Fat


1 whole-wheat waffle
6 oz Fage Total 0% Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries*
1/4 tsp cinnamon

*Blueberries are high in fiber, which helps keep your appetite in check. Plus, they're packed with anthocyanins--antioxidants that may bolster memory and protect your heart.

Total: 256 calories

3/4 cup edamame (soybeans)
8 oz iced tea* sweetened with 1 1/2 tsp honey and 1 lemon wedge

*Green isn't the only tea for weight loss. Polyphenols, like those found in the black brew, may lower blood sugar after a carb-heavy meal so you stay satisfied longer.

Total: 176 calories


1 medium tomato, cubed
1 oz fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sunflower seeds
1/4 tsp black pepper

1 cup Light in Sodium Lentil* Soup

*Lentils are a low-cal source of hunger-quashing protein and fiber.

Total: 422 calories

2 Light Rye crackers
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard*
2 oz sliced turkey breast

*Like other spicy foods, mustard has a warming effect, which means it can increase your metabolism, helping you burn more calories.

Total: 138 calories


3 oz beef tenderloin, cubed*
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp Newman's Own Lighten Up honey-mustard dressing
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts
1/4 cup sliced peppers
1/2 cup cooked brown rice

Marinate beef in teriyaki and dressing for 30 minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook beef 1 to 2 minutes. Add veggies and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until beef is browned. Serve over rice.

*Choose grass-fed beef. Beef from cows that graze on grass has higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acid, which can help fight body fat.

Total: 506 calories (Careful Here - That's 6 cals over..)

Add: 4 oz white wine (96 calories)
Subtract: 1/4 cup edamame, the honey from the iced tea, and 1 tsp sunflower seeds from the salad (96 calories)

Daily total: 1,498 calories





Boost Your Metabolism 

Metabolism. Simply put, it’s the process by which the body makes and uses calories.

Whether you’re trying to lose extra pounds or preparing for the inevitable metabolic slowing that comes with age, here are some surefire ways to boost your metabolism to keep your energy pulsating and your body in shape.

1. Build lean body mass. Muscle is the single most important predictor of how well you metabolize your food, how well you burn calories and burn body fat. Strength training with dumbbells or resistance bands at least twice a week is essential to boosting your metabolism. Repeat – essential. And here’s the really good news: Your metabolism stays pumped for many hours after you finish your workout.

2. Get moving. You know the drill, but here’s a reminder. At least 30 to 60 minutes of walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or some other form of aerobic exercise a minimum of three times a week is the other half of the exercise equation. You must exercise, putting your body into fast moving action.  Raise your heart rate and sweat a little...

3. Eat. It may sound crazy to those trying to lose weight by severely restricting your daily caloric intake, but the problem with this old school of thought is that it actually slows metabolism. Every cell of the body is like a flashlight bulb.  When our bodies don’t get enough food, or fuel, every cell burns less brightly. Recent studies show that eating smaller meals every three to four hours aids metabolism and weight loss.

4. Ditch the sugar. When you eat sugar you throw your metabolic switch into fat storage mode.

5. Don’t skip breakfast. It’s a fact that people who eat a healthy breakfast are skinnier than people who don’t. And try to think outside the box. A breakfast bowl of vegetables and brown rice is a great way to kick-start your metabolism for the day.

6. Include hot foods. Spicy foods that have hot peppers in them appear to boost metabolism.

7. Drink green tea. Green tea is known to stimulate metabolism.

8. Don’t forget H2O. Staying well hydrated is essential to flushing the body of toxic byproducts that are released when fat is burned. Cold water may also give your metabolism at least a small boost because energy is required to heat the body. And it does give your tummy a fuller feeling.

9. Avoid stress. Stress can actually cause weight gain, particularly around the tummy, because physical and emotional stress activates the release of cortisol, a steroid that slows metabolism.

10. Sleep. Research shows that people who don’t sleep for seven to eight hours a night are more prone to weight gain. Lean muscle is regenerated in the final few hours of sleep each night.

There are seven major classes of nutrients:  



Fat is a component in food. Some foods, including most fruits and vegetables, have almost no fat. Other foods have plenty of fat. They include nuts, oils, butter, and meats like beef.

The name — fat — may make it sound like something you shouldn't eat. But fat is an important part of a healthy diet. And little kids,especially need a certain amount of fat in their diets so the brain and nervous system develop correctly. That's why toddlers need to drink whole milk, which has more fat, and older kids and adults can drink low-fat or skim milk.  Once the brain and nervous system are developed, we no longer need large amounts of fat.  It is actually deadly to our bodies; cholesterol, over weight, etc.

How much fat should you eat? Experts say we should get about 30% of their daily calories from fat. Here's how that works. Every day, you eat a certain amount of calories. For instance, some people will eat 2,000 calories in a day. If 30% of 2,000 calories comes from fat, that means that 600 calories will come from fat. You can look at a food label to learn how many grams of fat are in a serving of a food. Labels also list the total calories from fat. (See "Reading Food Label" under the Nutrition tab.)

One way to reach this goal is to eat foods that are about 30% fat. But few foods contain exactly 30% fat. Instead, you can eat a mix of foods — some with higher percentages of fat and some with lower percentages — so that you still meet that goal of 30% of calories from fat.

Here's a sample menu to help you reach see the break down. It includes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, milk, and an apple. The peanut butter is high in fat, but it's a nutritious food and the overall total from the whole meal is about 30% from fat.

  • Two slices of bread = 13% fat (30 of 230 calories from fat)
  • Two tablespoons of peanut butter = 75% fat (140 of 190 calories from fat)
  • One tablespoon of jelly = 0% fat (0 of 50 calories from fat)
  • One cup of 1% milk = 18 % (20 of 110 calories from fat)
  • Apple = 0% (0 of 80 calories from fat)

        Total = 29% fat (190 of 660 calories from fat)

But you don't have to carry a calculator with you all time. By educating yourself on how to make these calculations, you can learn to eat in this balanced way without stressing over each gram of fat.

Types of Fat

You might see ads for foods that say they're "low-fat" or "fat-free." Lower-fat diets have been recommended for health and to help people lose weight. But nutrition experts are finding that fats are more complicated and that some kinds of fat are actually good for your health. As a bonus, fat in food helps people feel satisfied, so they don't eat as much.

But that doesn't mean a high-fat diet will be good for you. And some fats are better than others. Here are the three major types:

Unsaturated fats: These are found in plant foods and fish. These may be good for heart health. The best of the unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil,albacore tuna, and salmon.

Saturated fats: These fats are found in meat and other animal products, such as butter, cheese, and all milk except skim. Saturated fats are also in palm and coconut oils, which are often used in commercial baked goods (the kind you buy at the store). Eating too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol  levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

Trans fats: These fats are found in margarine,especially the sticks. Trans fats are also found in certain foods that you buy at the store or in a restaurant, such as snack foods, baked goods, and fried foods. When you see "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils on an ingredient list, the food contains trans fats.Trans fats are also listed on the food label. Like saturated fats,trans fats can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.  This is slowly being eliminated in fast food chains - if you've notice...

Why Do We Need Fat?

Dietary fat helps our bodies grow and develop like they should. Fats fuel the body and help absorb some vitamins. They also are the building blocks of hormones and they insulate nervous system tissue in the body.

So fat is not the enemy, but you'll want to choose the right amount— and the right kind of fat. If you're getting most of your fat from lean meats, fish, and heart-healthy oils, you've already made fat your friend!


You probably know you need to eat protein, but what is it? Many foods contain protein (say: pro-teen), but the best sources are beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products,nuts, seeds, and legumes like black beans and lentils. Protein builds up, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body. Your muscles, your organs, and your are made up mostly of protein.

Your body uses the protein you eat to make lots of specialized protein molecules that have specific jobs. For instance, your body uses protein to make hemoglobin (say: hee-muh-glow-bin), the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of your body. Other proteins are used to build cardiac muscle. What's that? Your heart! In fact, whether you're running or just hanging out, protein is doing important work like moving your legs, moving your lungs, and protecting you from disease.  Protein helps the tissue build back up after strength training.

All About Amino Acids

When you eat foods that contain protein, the digestive juices in your stomach and intestine go to work. They break down the protein in food into basic units, called amino acids (say uh-mee-no a-sids).The amino acids then can be reused to make the proteins your body needs to maintain muscles, bones, blood, and body organs.

Proteins are sometimes described as long necklaces with differently shaped beads. Each bead is a small amino acid. These amino acids can join together to make thousands of different proteins. Scientists have found many different amino acids in protein, but 22 of them are very important to human health.

Of those 22 amino acids, your body can make 13 of them without you ever thinking about it. Your body can't make the other nine amino acids, but you can get them by eating protein-rich foods. They are called essential amino acids because it's essential that you get them from the foods you eat.

Different Kinds of Protein

Protein from animal sources, such as meat and milk, is called complete, because it contains all nine of the essential amino acids .Most vegetable protein is considered incomplete because it lacks one or more of the essential amino acids. This can be a concern for someone who doesn't eat meat or milk products. But people who eat a vegetarian diet can still get all their essential amino acids by eating a wide variety of protein-rich vegetable foods.

For instance, you can't get all the amino acids you need from peanuts alone, but if you have peanut butter on whole-grain bread you're set. Likewise, red beans won't give you everything you need, but red beans and rice will do the trick. The good news is that you don't have to eat all the essential amino acids in every meal. As long as you have a variety of protein sources throughout the day, your body will grab what it needs from each meal.

How Much Is Enough?

You can figure out how much protein you need if you know how much you weigh. Each day, we need to eat about 0.5 grams of protein for every pound (0.5 kilograms) we weigh. That's a gram for every 2pounds (1 kilogram) of your weight. Your protein needs will grow as you get older, but then they level off when you reach adult size. Adults, for instance, need about 60 grams per day.

To figure out your protein needs, multiply your weight in pounds times 0.5 or you can just take your weight and divide by 2. For instance, a 70-pound (or 32-kilogram) kid should have about 35 grams of protein every day. If you only know your weight in kilograms, you need about 1 gram of protein each day for every kilogram you weigh.

You can look at a food label to find out how many protein grams are in a serving. But if you're eating a balanced diet, you don't need to keep track of it. It's pretty easy to get enough protein. Here's an example of how get about 35 grams of protein in a day:

  • 2 tablespoons (15 milliliters) peanut butter (7 grams protein)
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) low-fat milk (8 grams protein)
  • 1 ounce (30 grams) or two domino-size pieces of cheddar cheese (7 grams protein)
  • 1.5 ounces (90 grams) chicken breast (10.5 grams protein)
  • ½ cup (80 grams) broccoli (2 grams protein)

Of course, you can choose your own favorite combination of protein-rich foods — now that you're a pro at protein!


You've probably seen ads for low-carb foods and no-carb diets, but kids and adults need carbohydrates (say: kar-bo-hi-draytz). Most foods contain carbohydrates, which the body breaks down into simple sugars - the major source of energy for the body.

Two Types of Carbohydrates

There are two major types of carbohydrates in foods: simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates: These are also called simple sugars. Simple sugars are found in refined sugars, like the white sugar you'd find in a sugar bowl. If you have a lollipop, you're eating simple carbohydrates. But you'll also find simple sugars in more nutritious foods, such as fruit and milk. It's better to get your simple sugars from food like fruit and milk. Why? Because they contain vitamins, fiber, and important nutrients like calcium. A lollipop does not.

Complex carbohydrates: These are also called starches. Starches include grain products, such as bread, crackers,pasta, and rice. As with simple sugars, some complex carbohydrate foods are better choices than others. Refined (say: ree-find) grains, such as white flour and white rice, have been processed, which removes nutrients and fiber. But unrefined grains still contain these vitamins and minerals. Unrefined grains also are rich in fiber, which helps your digestive system work well. Fiber helps you feel full, so you are less likely to overeat these foods. That explains why a bowl of oatmeal fills you up better than sugary candy that has the same amount of calories as the oatmeal.

So which type of carbs should you eat? Both can be part of a healthy diet.  That is a nice answer huh!

How the Body Uses Carbohydrates

When you eat carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into simple sugars. These sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream. As the sugar level rises in your body, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed to move sugar from the blood into the cells, where the sugar can be used as a source of energy.

When this process goes fast - as with simple sugars - you're more likely to feel hungry again soon. When it occurs more slowly, as with a whole-grain food, you'll be satisfied longer. These types of complex carbohydrates give you energy over a longer period of time.

The carbohydrates in some foods (mostly those that contain a lot of simple sugars) cause the blood sugar level to rise more quickly than others. Scientists have been studying whether eating foods that cause big jumps in blood sugar may be related to health problems like diabetes and heart disease.You're probably already on the right track if you are limiting simple sugars (such as candy) and eating more complex carbohydrates (like vegetables, oatmeal, and whole-grain wheat bread).


Say: fy-bur

Foods with fiber are really good for you and your bowels! Fiber is found in plants and can't be digested so it helps clean out your intestines by moving bowel movements (also called poop) along. It's important to eat fiber so try some bran muffins instead of chocolate. Another way to get fiber is to eat more brown rice, fruit, and oatmeal. Fiber can be good for you and yummy, too!


What do you, the trees, and a hamster have in common? Give up? You all need water. All living things must have water to survive, whether they get it from a water fountain, a rain cloud, or a little bottle attached to the side of a hamster cage.

Without water, your body would stop working properly. Water makes up more than half of your body weight and a person can't survive for more than a few days without it. Why? Your body has lots of important jobs and it needs water to do many of them. For instance, your blood, which contains a lot of water, carries oxygen to all the cells of your body. Without oxygen, those tiny cells would die and your body would stop working.

Water is also in lymph (say: limf), a fluid that is part of your immune system, which helps you fight off illness. You need water to digest your food and get rid of waste, too. Water is needed for digestive juices, urine (pee), and poop. And you can bet that water is the main ingredient in perspiration, also called sweat.

In addition to being an important part of the fluids in your body, each cell depends on water to function normally.

Your body doesn't get water only from drinking water. Any fluid you drink will contain water, but water and milk are the best choices. Lots of foods contain water, too. Fruit contains quite a bit of water, which you could probably tell if you've ever bitten into a peach or plum and felt the juices dripping down your chin! Vegetables, too, contain a lot of water. Think of slicing into a fat tomato from the garden or crunching into a crisp stalk of celery.

How Much Is Enough?

Since water is so important, you might wonder if you're drinking enough. There is no magic amount of water that kids and adults need to drink everyday. Usually, kids like to drink something with meals and should definitely drink when they are thirsty. But when it's warm out, or you're exercising, you'll need more. Be sure to drink some extra water when you're out in warm weather, especially while playing sports or exercising.

When you drink is also important. If you're going to sports practice, a game, or just working out or playing hard, drink water before, during, and after playing. Don't forget your water bottle. You can't play your best when you're thinking about how thirsty you are!

When your body doesn't have enough water, that's called being dehydrated. Dehydration also can keep you from being as fast and as sharp as you'd like to be. A bad case of dehydration can make you sick. So keep that water bottle handy when the weather warms up! Not only does water fight dehydration, but it's awfully refreshing and has no calories.

Your body can help you stay properly hydrated by regulating the amount of water in your system. The body can hold on to water when you don't have enough or get rid of it if you have too much. If your pee has ever been very light yellow, your body might have been getting rid of excess water. When your pee is very dark yellow, it's holding on to water, so it's probably time to drink up.

You can help your body by drinking when you're thirsty and drinking extra water when it's warm out. Your body will be able to do all of its wonderful, waterful jobs and you'll feel great!


Did you ever notice how TV commercials for breakfast cereal always mention vitamins and minerals? But when you think of minerals, food isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Aren't minerals something you find in the earth, like iron and quartz?

Well, yes, but small amounts of some minerals are also in foods. For instance, red meat, such as beef, is a good source of iron.

Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. The body uses minerals to perform many different functions - from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.

Macro and Trace

There are two kinds of minerals: macro minerals and trace minerals. Macro means "large" in Greek (and your body needs larger amounts of macro minerals than trace minerals). The macro mineral group is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium,chloride, and sulfur.

A trace of something means that there is only a little of it. So even though your body needs trace minerals, it needs just a tiny bit of each one. Scientists aren't even sure how much of these minerals you need each day. Trace minerals includes iron, manganese, copper, iodine,zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.

Let's take a closer look at some of the minerals you get from food.


Calcium is the top macro mineral when it comes to your bones. This mineral helps build strong bones, so you can do everything from standing up straight to scoring that winning goal. It also helps build strong, healthy teeth, for chomping on tasty food.

Which foods are rich in calcium?

  • dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • canned salmon and sardines with bones
  • leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli
  • calcium-fortified foods - from orange juice to cereals and crackers


The body needs iron to transport oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Your entire body needs oxygen to stay healthy and alive.Iron helps because it's important in the formation of hemoglobin (say: hee-muh-glo-bun), which is the part of your red blood cells hat carries oxygen throughout the body.

Which foods are rich in iron?

  • meat, especially red meat, such as beef
  • tuna and salmon
  • eggs
  • beans
  • baked potato with skins
  • dried fruits, like raisins
  • leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli
  • whole and enriched grains, like wheat or oats


Potassium (say: puh-tah-see-um) keeps your muscles and nervous system working properly. Did you know your blood and body tissues, such as your muscles contain water? They do, and potassium helps make sure the amount of water is just right.

Which foods are rich in potassium?

  • bananas
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes with skins
  • leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli
  • citrus fruits, like oranges
  • dried fruits
  • legumes, such as beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts  


Zinc helps your immune system, which is your body's system for fighting off illnesses and infections. It also helps with cell growth and helps heal wounds, such as cuts.

Which foods are rich in zinc?

  • beef
  • pork
  • lamb
  • legumes, such as beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts

When people don't get enough of these important minerals, they can have health problems. For instance, too little calcium - especially when you're a kid - can lead to weaker bones. Some kids may take mineral supplements, but most kids don't need them if they eat a nutritious diet. So eat those minerals and stay healthy!


If you're like most kids, you've probably heard at least one parents say, "Don't forget to take your vitamin!" "Eat your salad — it's packed with vitamins!" But what exactly are vitamins?

Vitamins and minerals are substances that are found in foods we eat. Your body needs them to work properly, so you grow and develop just like you should. When it comes to vitamins, each one has a special role to play. For example:

  • Vitamin D in milk helps your bones.
  • Vitamin A in carrots helps you see at night.
  • Vitamin C in oranges helps your body heal if you get a cut.
  • B vitamins in leafy green vegetables help your body make protein and energy.

Vitamins Hang Out in Water and Fat

There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.

When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.

Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for awhile — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it's time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they're needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don't get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn't use comes out when you urinate (pee).

So these kinds of vitamins need to be replaced often because they don't stick around! This crowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamine), biotin, and pantothenic acid.

Vitamins Feed Your Needs

Your body is one powerful machine, capable of doing all sorts of things by itself. But one thing it can't do is make vitamins. That's where food comes in. Your body is able to get the vitamins it needs from the foods you eat because different foods contain different vitamins. The key is to eat different foods to get an assortment of vitamins. Though some kids and adults take a daily vitamin, most don't need one if they're eating a variety of healthy foods.

Now, let's look more closely at vitamins — from A to K:

Vitamin A

This vitamin plays a really big part in eyesight. It's great for night vision, like when you're trick-or-treating on Halloween. Vitamin A helps you see in color, too, from the brightest yellow to the darkest purple. In addition, it helps you grow properly and aids in healthy skin.

Which foods are rich in vitamin A?

  • milk fortified with vitamin A
  • liver
  • orange fruits and vegetables (like cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes)
  • dark green leafy vegetables (like kale, collards, spinach)

The B Vitamins

There's more than one B vitamin. Here's the list: B1, B2, B6, B12,niacin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Whew — that's quite a group!

The B vitamins are important in metabolic (say: meh-tuh-bah-lik)activity — this means that they help make energy and set it free when your body needs it. So the next time you're running to third base,thank those B vitamins. This group of vitamins is also involved in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body. Every part of your body needs oxygen to work properly, so these B vitamins have a really important job.

Which foods are rich in vitamin B?

  • whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • fish and seafood
  • poultry and meats
  • eggs
  • dairy products, like milk and yogurt
  • leafy green vegetables
  • beans and peas

Vitamin C

This vitamin is important for keeping body tissues, such as gums and muscles in good shape. C is also key if you get a cut or wound because it helps you heal. This vitamin also helps your body resist infection. This means that even though you can't always avoid getting sick,vitamin C makes it a little harder for your body to become infected with an illness.

Which foods are rich in vitamin C?

  • citrus fruits, like oranges
  • cantaloupe
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • kiwi fruit
  • sweet red peppers

Vitamin D

No bones about it . . . vitamin D is the vitamin you need for strong bones! It's also great for forming strong teeth. Vitamin D even lends a hand to an important mineral — it helps your body absorb the amount of calcium it needs.

Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

  • milk fortified with vitamin D
  • fish
  • egg yolks
  • liver
  • fortified cereal

Vitamin E

Everybody needs E. This hard-working vitamin maintains a lot of your body's tissues, like the ones in your eyes, skin, and liver. It protects your lungs from becoming damaged by polluted air. And it is important for the formation of red blood cells.

Which foods are rich in vitamin E?

  • whole grains, such as wheat and oats
  • wheat germ
  • leafy green vegetables
  • sardines
  • egg yolks
  • nuts and seeds

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the clot master! Remember the last time you got a cut? Your blood did something special called clotting. This is when certain cells in your blood act like glue and stick together at the surface of the cut to help stop the bleeding.

Which foods are rich in vitamin K?

  • leafy green vegetables
  • dairy products, like milk and yogurt
  • broccoli
  • soybean oil

When your body gets this vitamin and the other ones it needs, you'll be feeling A-OK!

Note:All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.