Figuring out how much and what to feed you kids is always tough. There is so much to try and get right that it can be hard to keep track of it all, especially when on the whole, they naturally want to reach for sugary snacks. To help you along the way here are the essential nutrients you should try to keep an eye on, as well as a few things to avoid.
Protein is a big yes for young children. Children need sufficient protein in their diet as the body uses it for growth and repair. Protein sources often have high levels of essential vitamins and minerals that are important for healthy, growing children.
Some sources of protein to consider incorporating into meals include;
Dairy can form an essential part of a balanced diet. The high levels of fat do mean it should be eaten in moderation. This is especially true of cheese. However, both cheese and milk are excellent sources of vitamin A and calcium. The calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin A is an integral part of the immune system. Without it, our bodies find it hard to resist infections. It also keeps skin and eyes healthy.
For quite a while, fats were considered a thing to avoid at all costs. However, it is crucial to have a sensible amount of fat in your child’s diet. In these healthy fats, you can find important vitamins and minerals for healthy brain and body development such as Omega 3.
They type of fat you choose is important. Unsaturated fats are kinder on your heart and have more positive health effects. Omegas 3 and 9 are fatty acids that can be lacking in many diets and are vital for healthy development. While Omega 6 is often in excess. Ideally, you want this to be the other way around. You can achieve this by swapping some red meat for oily fish. However, you can also use Omega supplements if kids aren’t keen on the taste of oily fish.
Iron is essential. Without enough in their diet, your child can develop anaemia, and if left unchecked, it can lead to mental and physical developmental delays.
There are two types of iron. You can either get it from meat and fish, or from plants. It is easier to absorb the iron in meat and fish. So, if your family follows a plant-based diet, you need to be vigilant about ensuring you eat sufficient iron-rich foods. Some good meat-free sources of iron include
- Fortified cereals
- Dark green vegetables
- Broad beans
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient. This means that your body can’t store it. So, you need to make sure your child is getting a regular supply of vitamin C in their diet. It plays several roles in the body, including bolstering the immune system, promoting healing of wounds and keeping your skin bones and blood healthy. Some good sources of vitamin C include
- Citrus fruit
Some General Things To Aim For
Keeping track of each of these things individually can be a challenge. So, to make it simple, you just need to remember ‘all things in moderation’. The best diet for your kids is one that is varied and balanced. The wider the range of things they eat, the better. As long as they don’t exist on one type of food only you’re probably going to do ok. Where you can try and encourage variety.
A Couple Of Things To Avoid
Anything with added sugar - This one is a big ask. But, where possible, try to avoid foods with added sugar. This is mostly going to be processed foods. Fizzy drinks are particularly bad. In other words, things, kids love! However, the high levels of sugar in these foods can lead to sugar highs and crashes as well as unwanted weight gain.
Saturated and trans fats - Again, this is about avoiding processed foods. You don’t have to cut them out entirely but, if you can make a switch do so. If you fry food a lot try and use an unsaturated fat instead, like rapeseed oil or olive oil. Or even better use the grill instead.
Getting these things right can help your child as they grow and develop. It can be easier to monitor what your kids are eating when they’re younger, but it is just as crucial for pre-teens and teenagers to eat right as well. Hopefully, you can get them into good, healthy eating habits while they’re young.