Children and Nutrition
One of the most important aspects of your children’s growth and development is their proper nutrition. Often taken for granted because of busy schedules and easy-fix meals, a growing child’s overall health can be affected by bad eating habits that lack nutritious and healthy foods.
Some parents believe that a child is “still young” and “can make up for it later on” or that “their bodies can take it”, but this type of thinking can be detrimental. Parents have to realize and understand that proper childhood nutrition goes a long way. It carries on to adulthood and helps defend a child from a host of medical problems or illnesses.
It can definitely be a challenge to get your child to eat nutritious foods, and sometimes it is easier to give them a bag of potato chips rather than a banana. The best way to combine children and nutrition though is to lead by example, and start from the time they are born.
Children will not mind eating nutritious food if it’s what they’re used to, in fact they will look for it when it isn’t around. Humans are creatures of habit, so if you start children on healthy eating habits early then you will not have a problem later on.
Make healthy eating a household rule that everyone (including you) has to follow. When you do the groceries, only buy a healthy variety of foods. Invest in a lot of grain, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Buy a lot of fish, as the omega 3 found in fish is good cholesterol. If you’re unsure about what to buy, you can always consult the kids food pyramid. The pyramid is also applicable to adults, but in varying quantities in terms of calorie intake.
So what are the calorie requirements of a growing child? It depends on your child’s age. At a toddler’s age (1-3 years) they should be getting 1,300 calories per day, children of 4-6 years should take in 1,800 calories per day, and children who are 7-10 years old should eat an average of 2,000 calories per day.
As children get older and hit puberty, their calorie requirements change depending on gender. Girls of 11-18 years of age will need about 2,200 calories a day, and boys will need 2,500 calories per day, going up to 3,000 calories when they turn 15.
When focused on healthy eating, make sure that the recommended daily allowances of proper vitamins and minerals are met in your and your children’s diet. Most children with a proper diet will not need a multivitamin or supplements.
Check with you pediatrician, and explain to them what your child’s daily diet is. Based on the information you give, and your child’s overall health, your pediatrician will be able to make the best decision as to whether or not you should enhance your child’s diet with a multivitamin.
Just to stay on the safe side, buy foods that contain the proper vitamins your child needs, and assess how much the intake of vitamins are, keeping in mind that the intake increases as they get older. You can consult a vitamins and minerals chart to see the proper quantities or daily values needed by your child and at what age. For the most part, make sure your child gets vitamins A, C, K, and D, while getting good doses of calcium, iron, zinc, and fluoride.
Remember to balance off all the healthy eating with exercise. You can make your exercise fun! Take your child for bike rides, play tag with them in the park, or encourage them to join a sports program. Getting their blood pumping and out in the sun for an hour or two each day will boost their health, help their metabolism, strengthen their muscles, and ensure that your children and nutrition are at its best!
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