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My family and I have recently changed our eating habits to include alot more plant based foods. I have an 18 month old, a 6 year old and an 8 year old. My husband and I eat only one portion of meat a day. The rest is vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A little cheese sometimes. This is working great for us but I am afraid this is too restricted for my children. I give them whole milk at breakfast and meat at supper. Their snacks are fresh fruit. Their lunch includes peanut butter sandwiches, soups, sandwiches with veggies and cheese. Is this enough iron and protein? I vary our vegetables alot and we eat alot of vegetables. My children are small for their age but I just changed their eating habits and they have always been small. My husband and I are small also.Before we ate a typical home cooked american diet with meat two to three times a day and vegetables and fruit only 4 times a week. How can I monitor their health oustide of their energy and visual. I talked to their pediatrician but there is a real disconnect from diet and I have a hard time getting across to him. I am a very concerned parent and I really want to give all of us the best possible fuel for our bodies. Thanks for your help.

It’s wonderful that you are including more plant based foods for you and your family. It is important that young children, like yours, get enough nutrients to support their growth, and without knowing exactly how they are eating and growing, it is difficult to say if they are meeting their needs. (Their energy levels and growth are both good indicators of nutritional adequacy). You might want to seek the help of a registered dietitian, and can find one in your area by clicking here. The Vegetarian Resource Group has information on vegetarian eating that you may find useful. You can get a good idea of how balanced your diet is at where you can create a profile for each family member (except your toddler). You can find suggestions for feeing your toddler from WIC nutrition education materials. Get to them by clicking here.

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The Expert: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health (PBH) Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
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