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Nutrition in Childhood: It’s Important!

Nutrition in Childhood: It’s Important

Written by: Rachele Gentry

Many children are famous for refusing to eat food that is green, stinky or, generally, healthy. As a result, many parents say, “My child wants to eat chicken nuggets for every meal.” 

While chicken nuggets and French fries is a fun and tasty meal every now and again, eating processed food is not benefiting your child’s health. 

Childhood obesity is at an all-time high. Parents must know how to promote a healthy lifestyle to their children, and this includes good nutritional habits. Research suggests that nutrition is linked with learning and memory, and children who eat more nutritious food do better in school. 

Many parents find it difficult to provide their children with nutrient-dense snacks and meals. The difficulty may be related to a busy schedule, limited budget or a child who is a picky eater. But parents, you are not alone in the struggle. 

Here are a few simple tricks for promoting a healthy lifestyle for your child:
• Use the “rainbow test” when making a meal. Is the plate full of colorful foods or foods that are white or brown? When food is naturally colored orange, yellow, green, red or purple, nature is telling us it is packed with essential nutrients. 
• Get sneaky with it! Here are some wonderful tricks on hiding healthy in your child’s favorite food. 
Prep meals in advance to save time during a busy week. Meal preparation also helps to prevent eating out.
• Get your child involved in making a meal! Even something as simple as stirring pasta or seasoning vegetables can give children a sense of responsibility for a meal. When children know they helped make a meal, they are more likely to eat it.

What nutrients are essential for my child?
1. Protein helps build cells, produce energy and fight infection. 
Chicken, fish, beef, pork, beans, tofu, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt

2. Iron is important for making healthy blood that carries oxygen to all parts of the body
Red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, eggs, tuna

3. Fats have a bad reputation, but healthy fats are a wonderful source of energy for children. Cooking oil, avocado, meat, fish, nuts, cheese

4. Calcium helps build healthy bones and teeth. It is also important for nerve, muscle and heart function. Dairy products, tofu, some dry cereals

5. Vitamin A helps growth, strengthens the eyes, promotes healthy skin and aids in preventing infection. Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli

How many calories should my child eat per day?* 
Ages 2-3: 1,000-1,400
Ages 4-5: 1,200-1,400
Ages 6-8: 1,400-1600
Ages 9-10: 1,600-1,800
Ages 11-12: 1,800-2,200
* Calorie needs vary based on gender, activity level and overall needs. Please consult your pediatrician to verify your child’s recommended caloric intake. 

Healthy eating prepares your child for a healthy life!