Set Up A Nutritious Diet Plan For Your Child
Your child will be happier and healthier in the long term if you start him off right with a diet that contains all the vitamins and nutrients he needs.
Children’s nutrition is based upon the same basic principles as adult nutrition. All bodies need minerals, vitamins, protein, carbohydrates and fat – yes, fat. Kids’ diets are different because they need different amounts of some nutrients, as they age.
Select from the Healthiest Foods for your Child
There are some foods that are particularly nutrient dense, and they play an important role in the good health of your child, according to the Mayo Clinic. They include:
- Vegetables – Serve various frozen, canned or fresh vegetables, particularly orange, red and dark green vegetables, peas and beans.
- Fruits – Offer your child different types of dried, frozen, canned or fresh fruits instead of fruit juice. If you serve your child juice, be sure that it is 100% juice with nothing added.
- Protein – Select lean meat, seafood, eggs, poultry, peas, beans, soy products, unsalted seeds and unsalted nuts.
- Dairy – Encourage your young child to drink and eat dairy products that are low in fat, like yogurt, cheese, milk or soy beverages, if they are fortified.
Try to limit the calories your child gets from added sugars and solid fats. These include cake, butter, pizza and soda. Search for good ways of replacing solid fats with nut and vegetable oils. These provide vitamin E and essential fatty acids to your child. Oils are found naturally in seafood, avocadoes, nuts and olives.
Teach your Child Healthy Eating Habits
When you teach your child to eat healthy foods, and model that behavior yourself, you are helping him to maintain healthy weight and proper growth. In addition, any eating habits that your child picks up when young may carry over into his adult life.
Your child’s pediatrician can help you in evaluating his growth and weight. He or she will advise you when your child might need to gain or lose weight, or if you should make any dietary changes.
Healthy eating involves choosing proper portions and cutting down on your child’s fatty foods. There are some easy ways you can reduce his intake of fat to promote healthy weight, states WebMD. Try serving these types of food:
- Poultry without the skin
- Nonfat or low-fat dairy products
- Whole grain cereals and breads
- Lean meat cuts
In addition, reducing the number of drinks with sugar and foods with salt that you give to your child will help to maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re not sure how to choose and prepare various foods for your child, you can consult someone who specializes in nutrition counseling, or avail yourself of nutrition resources geared toward children.
If your child is overweight, you should consult a physician before you place him on any type of restrictive diet. This is done for medical reasons, to ensure that he will still be getting all of the nutrients he needs.
Help your Child to Make Good Choices
Guide the choices your child makes instead of dictating what foods he will eat. Make available many healthy foods from which he can make good choices. This will help him learn to make the healthiest food choices as an adult. Don’t bring home soda or lots of snacks from the grocery store. For mealtime drinks, serve milk or water.
Your child should be encouraged to eat slowly. He can detect when he is hungry or full more easily when he eats slowly. Wait a few extra minutes before offering second helpings, to make sure that he is still hungry.