The Importance of Dairy

The Importance of DairyAny time is a great time to commit to making small changes towards living a healthy lifestyle, which can help lower a child’s future risk of nutrition-related diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. One thing you can do to help your child’s health is choose a variety of low-fat or fat-free dairy products as part of meals and snacks. For example, this could include a cup of high protein, low-fat Greek yogurt for breakfast, a string cheese stick as a calcium-rich afternoon snack and/or a cup of skim milk at dinner.

Dairy includes liquid milk products and foods made from milk that maintain their calcium content. Milk-based foods with little to no calcium are not considered dairy products. Examples include butter, sour cream and cream cheese. An interesting exception is calcium-fortified soymilk, which is considered a dairy product.

How much dairy product should your child have?

In general children ages 2 to 8 need 2 – 2 ½ cups daily and children older than 8 need 3 cups daily.

What’s a serving size of dairy?
  • 1 cup of milk, yogurt or soy milk
  • 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese
  • What are some healthy dairy options?
Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options when available to help limit calorie and saturated fat intake.

Avoid dairy products with added sugars because they can pack on the calories and raise blood sugar. Examples include chocolate milk, milk-based desserts and flavored yogurts topped with candy.

Consider low lactose or lactose-free dairy products if needed. When choosing non-dairy products, such as almond, coconut or rice milk, check the nutrition facts label to ensure they are calcium-fortified.

If you have any questions about your child’s nutrition, give MacKoul Pediatrics a call at (239) 573-2001.