Children have exceptional nutritional demands. A child’s body requires a broad range of vitamins from a diverse set of food groups. A healthy diet in early childhood can lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Parents should avoid foods that are highly processed or pureed. Many processed food items lack the nutrients that children need and contain a lot of empty calories.
It is best to prepare food at home. Home-cooked meals should include a blend of vegetables, complex carbohydrates, or fruits. In general, a child’s plate should be very colorful. The different colors come from the abundance of vitamins in the food.
Children are highly impressionable. If a child likes food during their childhood, then they are much more likely to eat the same food in adulthood. Therefore, parents should focus on how to introduce new foods that appeal to a child.
Parents can create nicknames for the foods they want their child to eat. In general, foods that have fun and creative names are more appealing to children.
Each cooking method can bring out the most nutrition in each food. Some methods include broiling, boiling, or steaming. Parents should experiment with a variety of natural spices to enhance the flavor of the food.
Some foods are packed with more nutrition than others. The flavors that nutrient-rich food offers can allow a child to fully appreciate the taste of many foods.
Nearly every fruit and vegetable is a rich source of antioxidants. In general, the brighter the color, the healthier the food.
Antioxidants are essential for brain function and development. Throughout the day, the body produces biological by-products known as free radicals. These by-products come as a result of biological activity in the body.
Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals and other harmful by-products. Foods such as berries and greens are an abundant source of antioxidants.
Benefits of antioxidants include reduced skin inflammation, improved immunity, and an increase in mental focus.
Protein is the building block of muscle. A child’s meals should contain at least thirty percent protein.
Foods that contain protein include lean meats, seafood, beans, and nuts. Parents should avoid red meats because read meat often contains a high level of unhealthy fats.
Children are very active and have a high caloric demand. Protein is high calories and can provide children with the energy that they need. A diet that is high in protein can also promote healthy weight gain.
Parents should give their children complex carbohydrates and limit simple carbohydrates. Foods such as cookies, pasta, and white bread are examples of foods that contain a lot of simple carbohydrates. The body stores simple carbohydrates as fat more easily. Too many simple carbohydrates can lead to excessive weight gain.
Potatoes, rice, and pasta are high in complex carbohydrates. The body can use complex carbohydrates for energy. Children are less likely to experience a crash in energy levels with the foods do not contain too much sugar.
Healthy fats play an essential role in brain development. Fats that are considered healthy are comprised of a carbon chain that is easily broken down in the body. Unhealthy fats have long carbon chains that cannot be easily broken down and can clog the arteries over time.
Foods that contain healthy fats include nuts, lean meats, fish and beans. Children should not have animal fats like lard because such fats can lead to obesity and further health concerns. Meals should be thoroughly cooked in healthy oil.
There are many oils that contain essential fats. Common oils include almond, coconut, and grape seed oil. A healthy oil can enhance the flavor of the dish and offer children additional nutrition.
Children need to have strong bones. A diet that is high in calcium can reduce the risk of injury. Children can get calcium from foods like yogurt, spinach, and tofu. Calcium is also important for heart function.
Time outside can also give children the vitamins they need. The body converts ultraviolet rays from the sun into vitamins that help to fortify the bones. However, children should wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn or damage to the skin.
Fiber is necessary for proper bowel movement and digestion. Children are less likely to experience stomach aches with more fiber in their diet. A diet that is high in fiber can reduce the risk of heart disease later in life.
Foods that are high in fiber include nuts, grapefruit, seeds, and chickpeas. Some foods that are high in fiber are a bit bitter and children may not like them as much. It may help to pair high-fiber foods with a snack that children like.
Vitamins support healthy vision. Children are less likely to experience problems with vision later in life with a diet that is high in Vitamin A. Vegetables and certain oils are a rich source of Vitamin A.
Children can easily receive their Vitamin A through a meal that has spinach, carrots, or eggs. Foods that contain vitamin A come in a variety of flavors. Therefore, parents should experiment with different types of foods.
Vitamin C helps to boost immunity. Children are more susceptible to viruses because their immune systems are not fully developed. Foods like oranges, broccoli, and potatoes are rich in Vitamin C and can reduce the chances of a viral infection. Strawberries and mangos are also high in vitamin C.
Vitamin supplements may also contain a high amount of Vitamin C. Parents should verify if their children are old enough to take vitamin supplements. It is best for a child to take a supplement with a well-balanced meal.
Children need Vitamin D for healthy bones and muscles. The body easily converts Vitamin D into energy that can support muscle growth. Most dairy products contain a high amount of Vitamin D.
Children are more prone to injuries because their bones are not fully developed. Therefore, Vitamin D is essential to a child’s diet and should be included in most meals. Vitamin D can also be found in ice cream because it is a dairy product. However, ice cream should not be a child’s primary source of Vitamin D.
Iron helps to regulate body temperature. Children can find iron from a variety of food items including cereals, beans, whole grains, and nuts. Iron is an essential component for healthy blood cells.
Oxygen-rich blood must travel throughout the body for proper muscle and tissue function. A diet that is high in iron can boost cognitive abilities. A healthy brain allows children to form critical decisions and perform well in their academics.
Where to get all the necessary vitamins
Most fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain all the vitamins that children need. Parents should feel free to be creative with their meals. Children are naturally curious about their environment and appreciate new meals.
Children should live an active lifestyle to gain the most benefits from their vitamins. The body uses more vitamins with increased activity. Children must be active to convert all the food into energy, otherwise, the food gets stored as fat. An active lifestyle can promote circulation and increase energy levels.
Children may not like all the foods that they are given. The taste buds of children and adults are different. Parents should not necessarily force food to their child. Instead, parents can explore different food options with their children to figure out the ideal meal.
Greg Davis is an avid nutrition and fitness nut who runs Diet Pill Reviews. He owns a gym in the Avondale, PA area and has been a personal trainer for over 15 years. Greg enjoys playing with different workouts and meal plans to get the most for his clients and readers.