Good Nutrition for kids is paramount!
In this series of blog posts, Diana Varughese explores good nutrition for children and how you can help your child make healthy food choices for life.
First up, Nutrition for kids: What types of food should our kids be consuming? What should we limit?
Good nutrition and an active, healthy lifestyle ensures that children grow and develop in a healthy way. Proper nutrition provides the essential minerals and vitamins that children need to function and thrive. Nutritional needs vary throughout life and are greatly influenced by the child’s stage of growth.
Based on the latest guidelines for Americans, a balanced diet should include:
|Proteins||Seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, unsalted seeds or nuts||Your body uses proteins to build new muscles, skin and blood. Proteins help maintain bones and body organs. In addition to vitamins, proteins contain iron, which is an essential component in healthy red blood cells.|
|Fruits & Vegetables||Fresh, dried, frozen fruits, 100% juice without added sugars, fresh, dried, frozen, canned vegetables, low in sodium, dark greens, beans and peas||Fruits and vegetables help boost a child’s immune system. They contain high fiber that help the digestive system function properly. They are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and folic acid. These foods help control blood cholesterol and encourage feeling healthy and energized.|
|Dairy||Fat free or low fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified soy or similar||Dairy products help to build and maintain strong teeth and bones by increasing bone mass. They contain calcium and vitamin D.|
|Grains||Whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice or quinoa||Grains play a key role in metabolism by releasing energy from protein, fats, and carbohydrates.|
Are you thinking, my child won’t eat that?
Here are some fun ideas to try:
1- Allow kids to be included as part of the meal preparation. It’s fun using your child’s hand to measure portion sizes.
2- Try unique ways to prepare, set up vegetables and protein on a plate.
3- Buy fruits for snacks and desserts instead of chips and cookies; these can be offered once or twice a week as a treat.
4- Eating the same foods with your kids can be a strong motivator.
5- Prepare smoothies as another way of consuming fruits and vegetables.
What should you limit in your child’s overall diet?
Added sugar = Added risks.
Stick to natural sugars found in fruit and dairy products. It is best to avoid added sugars such as artificial sweeteners, honey, corn syrup, etc
Limit saturated and trans fat that comes from certain types of red meat, full fat dairy products and foods that contain excess butter and cheese. It is best to stick to lean meat and reduced or low fat dairy products.
While we hope you find this information to be helpful, please remember that differences in daily routines take time. A balanced diet builds healthy bones and muscles while boosting physical power. With strong bones, kids can perform activities such as running, jumping, walking, and climbing. The essential vitamins and minerals affect energy production which allows them to perform endurance activities such as playing basketball, swimming, and running for a longer period of time. With time, kids learn what is modeled to them. Implementing small nutritional changes throughout the day will help you see the added energy that your child exhibits and the feeling that they can do anything!