Good nutrition for kids

It would be wrong to say that nutrition is most important during childhood because good nutrition is essential throughout life, especially during times of distress, disease, and pregnancy; however, during childhood, the focus on nutrition is paramount in getting your kids to grow strong and healthy and to develop as they should. While you may be on a mission to do right by providing the perfect balance of different foods to your child, you will very likely come across many obstacles. First of all, understanding why the nutrition is so important may make this whole process a little easier, both for you and the child. And then there comes the issue that you may not know exactly what your kids do need to be healthy. Finally, overcoming the problem of persuading your kids to eat foods that will promote growth and development is certainly a difficult task in and of itself. Reading this article is certainly a good start because you’re making an effort to do things the proper way.

Nutrition for Kids
It is fairly simple why nutrition for kids is so important. The adolescent years are meant for growth and development. Both of these require the right kind of energy in order to be done optimally. During these years, the body goes through many physical changes that need to be supported with proper food and nutrition. Besides that, eating unhealthy starting with the early years of life doesn’t help the child later on. He or she will be at a higher risk early on for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eating habits, while they can change, are for the most part acquired early on in life; starting your child out with a good sound palate will be helpful in the future. Also, providing the proper education materials is good for your child because he or she may understand better why nutrition is so important.

Foods for Kids
Making sure your child gets a wide variety of foods from all five food groups is very important in ensuring that all the needed vitamins and minerals are consumed as they should be. Your child should eat:

  • 6 servings of grains, 3 from whole grains
  • 2 servings of fruit
  • 3 servings of vegetables
  • 3 servings of dairy
  • 2 servings of protein

Besides knowing the amount of foods your child should consume from each group, there are some general guidelines to follow.

  • Choose nutrient dense foods from each group. In other words, don’t choose foods that are high in calories and provide hardly anything else in the ways of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
  • Offer your child a diet low in saturated and trans fats.
  • Provide all foods in moderation.
  • Balance foods with physical activity.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about starting your child on a supplement if you think he or she is not getting the recommended amounts of vitamins or minerals.

Overcoming the Problem

  • First things first: feeding your child or children the proper foods should not be a battle because this leaves an unpleasant environment for all parties involved. There may be some back and forth banter, but eventually a mutual compromise should be reached. Here are some tips to making this a fun “activity” for everyone.
  • Eat Healthy Yourself. Kids won’t eat healthy if they don’t have anyone eating healthy in front of them as a role model. Set an example by choosing healthier foods for meals and snacks, and your child will be more likely to choose these foods on his or her own.
  • Leave Room for Freedom of Choice. If your child feels that you are forcing all of the food choices, he or she will probably rebel, and very likely put up a fight. Allowing the child to make some decisions is a good idea.
  • Have Regular Family Meals. It’s no surprise that in this day and age it is nearly impossible to sit down with the family for every single meal of the day; however, having at least one meal a day, such as dinner, is a comforting idea for everyone. Kids like the predictability that this event would create and parents like the bonding time with their children. At this time, it is easy to introduce new main or side dishes because if the kids see that you’re eating it, it may be easier for them to accept. Many kids do not respond well to change, so subtle introductions are best.
  • Keep Variety in Mind and on Hand. Kids snack on a daily basis, which is good for their growing bodies, but it is the parents’ responsibility to keep a stock of food in the house that satisfies the child’s needs while at the same time not leaving the child feeling deprived. Younger children do not go to the store when they are hungry, they eat only what is available to them.
    • Fruits and vegetables are excellent snacks to have on hand.
    • Having healthy foods such as low-fat yogurt, peanut butter and celery, or cheese and crackers are good choices.
    • Keep lean meats on hand, such as fish, chicken, eggs, beans, and nuts.
    • Whole-grain foods provide fiber and are healthy for any family member.
    • Try to choose healthier cooking methods, such as grilling, steaming, roasting, or baking, and avoid frying foods.
    • Don’t completely deplete your pantry shelves of cookies, chips, and candy, but make sure that your child understands that these are “special” foods that shouldn’t be eaten every day.
    • For drinks, make sure your children drink plenty of water and skim or 1% milk. Try to limit soft drinks to zero or one per day. Only buy fruit juices that are 100% fruit juice.
Last updated on Oct 17th, 2010 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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