The nutritional choices you make for your child will have a lasting impact on their diet and health for the rest of their lives. From the time they start eating solid foods, your child’s healthy diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, protein, and healthy fats. Developing kids need to eat a balanced diet to ensure that they receive the proper nutrition including vitamins and minerals needed for life.
Childhood Nutrition Tips
A healthy diet for children should include:
- Fruits: Fruits and fruit juices are some of the best sources of vitamins and minerals that your child can get. Fruit makes a wonderful snack at any time of day and a far better choice than reaching for cookies or candy when craving sweets.
- Vegetables: While fruits and vegetables alike are a necessary and healthy part of any diet, nutritionists recommend that the ideal diet contains more vegetables than fruits. This is because of the high sugar content of most fruits.
- Whole Grains: Whenever possible, swap out simple carbs like white bread and replace them with complex carbs like whole-grain bread and brown rice. Whole grains make an excellent source of dietary fiber, among other necessary nutrients.
- Dairy: If your child can tolerate dairy well, a daily serving of nutritious dairy products like milk or yogurt can be a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals.
- Healthy Fat: Some fats, like unsaturated fats, are actually good for your child. Healthy fats like omega-3s are crucial for brain development and energy. Some of the top sources of healthy fats include nut butters, olive oil, avocado, and fish.
- Protein: Last but not least, every child should be getting a good serving of healthy proteins every day for their growth and development. The top sources of protein to include in your child’s diet are lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. To reach the daily recommended protein amount, aim for around half a gram of protein for every pound of your child’s body weight.
A healthy diet for children should avoid:
- Processed Foods: Most kids today have diets that are far too reliant on processed foods. Anytime you can substitute a fresh whole food for a frozen meal or sugary boxed snack, you will be making a good choice for your child.
- Added Sugar: Almost all foods and drinks marketed toward kids are far too high in sugar. Some of the worst culprits for added sugar include sports drinks, juices, and sodas. Just a single serving of one of these drinks can include twice the recommended daily amount of sugar! Try to give your child water or milk instead.
- Saturated and Trans Fats: While fats like the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocadoes are good for you, saturated fats and trans fats have the opposite effect. Animal products and processed foods are the biggest culprits for these unhealthy fats. Try to aim for fewer than 10 grams of these fats per day.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s diet, give us a call today to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians in Arvada.