Teaching childhood nutrition to your child is the best way to keep your child healthy. Many parents aren’t clear on what makes up a healthy diet and they allow their children to make choices that are not healthy such as drinking a lot of juice or soda and not getting enough calcium or getting too many calories.
Some parents in today’s society believe that forcing their child to clean their plate ensures they are receiving healthier food. What most parents don’t think about is the snacks their child may be eating during the day that contribute to their child being full at dinnertime. Children who do not have healthy eating habits are likely to continue making unhealthy eating choices into adulthood.
Let’s look at some of the best practices for childhood nutrition and selecting healthy foods:
Milk is an essential ingredient in nutrition for kids. It promotes healthy bones and allows enough calcium for their growing body. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children who are:
1-3 years old drink about 2 cups of milk (or other dairy products)
4-8 years old drink about 3 cups of milk (or other dairy products)
9-18 years old drink about 4 cups of milk (or other dairy products)
If your child has a milk allergy, consider an alternative to cow’s milk, such as soy milk or rice milk, although since they are low fat, they are not recommended for toddlers under two years of age.
Many kids drink too much juice and not enough milk. Drinking too much juice can contribute to obesity, cavities, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems, such as excessive gas, bloating and abdominal pain. Always check the label on juice and be sure it is 100% pasteurized fruit juice and not fruit drinks.
Encourage your kids to eat a variety of iron rich foods with Vitamin C to help absorb the iron.
Many children, since they don’t eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and they have a relatively high fat diet, tend to have diets that are low in fiber, which can lead to their becoming constipated, besides having future health problems.
Make sure you have healthy foods in your house including many fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grain breads, and cereals.
Many children do not supplement exercise with their nutritional intake and quickly become overweight. Review the serving size to make sure your child isn’t eating too much for the amount of calories they burn each day.
Eating fast food on a regular basis can be detrimental to your child’s nutritional health. While going out for fast food can be fun once and awhile, you need to be cautious of the types of fast food you are feeding your child. Learn to make healthy food choices at restaurants like salad, fruit, and milk.
The most common mistakes parents make in childhood nutrition are as follows:
•Switching to whole milk before a baby is twelve months old.
•Not giving their kids enough milk or other calcium rich foods.
•Giving their kids fruit drinks instead of 100% fruit juice. Many of the more popular products that parents buy are not actually 100% fruit juice.
•Letting their kids drink soda, tea, and other drinks with caffeine.
•Allowing their kids too get too many calories from the things they drink, whether it is soda, fruit drinks, or 100% fruit juice and not encouraging their kids to drink water.
•Making serving sizes too large, this is a common way that kids get too many calories.
•Eating too much fast food.