Children's Diet - Growing Healthy Eaters

By: Gen Wright

Eating is perhaps one of life’s greatest pleasures. It is necessary for us to survive. Yet the kinds and amounts of food that we ingest, instead of aiding survival, takes a toll on our longevity. We have to be conscious about the kind of food that we eat. Our eating habits and our penchant for certain tastes and flavors are developed from childhood. Healthy eating habits are formed from birth. For our children to grow healthy, we have to train them to eat healthy at an early stage.

Our initiation to anything gustatory started from the time we were fed our first drop of mother’s milk. As we introduce solid food to our children, whatever food we feed them should be as healthy as possible. While baby food is conveniently available in hermetically sealed jars and packages, your baby can derive more nutritional benefits from homemade baby food. Boiled pieces of meat and vegetables can be pureed or mashed to make baby food. You can make a batch and put the excess in an ice cube tray for freezing. On the next feeding time, all you have to do is to pop one baby food cube from the tray and heat it up.

A child’s salt and sugar intake especially during the early years should be controlled lest they develop a sweet-tooth or an addiction to salty food. Keep your kids away from sweets, sugary foods like cakes and pastries, flavored drinks, soda and anything containing sucrose. This can help curb predisposition to childhood diabetes and obesity. Excessive sugar consumption for a child whose physical activity is limited can result in increased fat stores, making him more susceptible to fat-related diseases such as hypertension.

Calcium is an important element in a child’s diet. This plays a great role in a child’s growth and general well-being. For girls, the bone formation is concentrated on the first two decades of life. About half of the bone’s density is formed during these years. Eating the right amounts of food rich in calcium will build up the supply of calcium and prevent osteoporosis and brittle bone disease in later years. Nutritionists and dieticians recommend a calcium intake of anywhere from 500 milligrams to 1300 milligrams depending on the child’s age. Giving our children milk instead of sodas or flavored drinks will contribute to their calcium intake. Other foods that are rich in calcium include cheese and yogurt.

Fiber is another must in a child’s diet. Fibrous foods are loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals to aid your child’s growth and development. Phytonutrients found in high-fiber foods give your child’s immune system a boost. Fiber can add bulk to your child’s bowel movements and consequently prevent constipation. Eating adequate amounts of fiber-rich foods can reduce risks of acquiring diabetes and heart diseases in later years.

Other minerals that help in your child’s growth and development are magnesium and potassium. While not commonly seen in food labels, magnesium and potassium are essential nutrients in bodily functions that make your child go, glow and grow. Magnesium rich foods include green leafy vegetables, beans and nuts. Potassium, on the other hand, may be found in dairy, meat and seafood. Both magnesium and potassium improves your child’s bone, heart and muscle functions.

Healthy children make for a healthy future. As parents, it goes without saying that we want the best future for our children. Raising them to lead healthy lives is a step towards a healthy and productive future.

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