The Importance of Children’s Nutrition
Let’s take a moment and think about children’s nutrition. When you think of a kid’s menu at a local restaurant, what is typically on that menu? You are probably thinking things like chicken nuggets and fries, cheeseburger and fries, macaroni and cheese, etc., right? Why is it that when we think of “kid food” we think of highly processed sugar-loaded foods? Well, it is because it is, unfortunately, the norm and because kids like those types of foods, but don’t we all?
The problem is that these “normal kid-friendly” foods are having a direct impact on all aspects of your children’s life. Whether we are thinking about the short term or even long term, thinking of them developing into adults, their nutrition is playing a major role in their development.
The Impact of Children’s Nutrition - Why Does it Matter What They Eat?
Your developing children are at a point where their bodies need whole nutritious foods to not only properly function, but also fully develop. Their brains and physical bodies are constantly changing and growing and this requires a balanced nutrient-rich diet.
Understanding the Essential Nutrients
Protein is a building block for strong healthy kids. It is essential for building, maintaining, and repairing the tissues in our body.
High Protein Foods:
Think energy and brain health! Carbohydrates help a child's body to use fat and protein for building and repairing tissue. While carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, they are essential for healthy children. Cautionary note that not all carbohydrates are created equal, you should always be sure to choose whole natural sources.
Healthy Sources of Carbohydrates:
Potatoes - especially sweet potatoes
First let’s understand that eating fat in your diet will not make you fat, much like eating blueberries will not make you turn blue. Fat plays an important role in the development of your child’s brain and helps them reach their maximum growth potential. Fat is used in the body as fuel and helps the body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.
Healthy Sources of Fat:
Healthy Oils - LIke Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fatty Fish - Like Salmon
Other nutrients to consider include;
Calcium - Helps builds strong bones and can be found in dairy products and leafy greens.
Iron - For healthy blood that carries oxygen to cells all over the body and can be found in red meats, beans, and nuts.
Folate - Essential for healthy cell growth and can be found in dark leafy greens and legumes.
Fiber - Bowel regularity and can be found in beans and whole grains.
Children’s Nutrition - Take Away Message
Tons of other vitamins and nutrients play a role in a healthy diet, but in general, always aim to stick to whole foods. You may have noticed that many types of foods were listed above for being good sources of multiple nutrients.
Next time you are in the supermarket aim to only shopping on the outer edges and try to buy only perishable foods. Remember, if it can sit on your shelf at home for months or even years, that is a good indicator that it is a highly processed food and should be avoided.