What Parents Should Know About Healthy Eating For Kids

April 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy Living

Article by Trevor John

Healthy eating for kids is an issue that affects parents everywhere. Children need to consume a diet rich in the vitamins and minerals needed for proper growth and development. Instilling good habits when children are young will encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle when they become adults.

Eliminating excess fat is important to avoid obesity. Overweight children have a higher risk of developing a variety of health problems. Making the right choices at the grocery store is an effective way to reduce fat intake. Suitable options include lean meats and poultry served without the skin. Whole grains and nonfat dairy products are better choices than processed foods made with white flour and whole milk.

Protein is important for growth of virtually every part of the body. The proteins are broken down into amino acids, which go into producing tissues, cells, hormones and enzymes. Animal and plant products contain proteins. Eggs and other animal products are the body’s only source for certain essential amino acids. Protein needs fluctuate during development with the greatest need during infancy and just prior to the adolescent growth spurt.

Most people are aware of calcium’s role in the development of strong bones but this mineral is crucial for other physiological functions. The body needs calcium for normal muscular activity, to regulate heartbeat and to assist in blood clotting. When calcium levels become too low, the body compensates by withdrawing it from bones. Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are rich in calcium.

Milk is also the primary dietary source of Vitamin D. The bones need Vitamin D to absorb enough calcium for proper growth.

Many kids do not get enough fiber in the diet. Foods like beans, vegetables, fruits and whole grains contain large amounts of fiber in addition to minerals and vitamins. Eating foods rich in fiber promotes healthy digestion. These foods will also make the child feel full longer and decrease the desire for between meal snacking.

Iron plays a crucial role in early brain development and the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout every portion of the body. Heme iron from animal products is more readily absorbed than the non heme iron in plants. Good dietary sources of iron include meat, spinach, seafood and legumes. Some food suppliers add non heme iron to pasta, cereal, bread and rice.

Children who are included in shopping for food and preparing meals will learn good nutrition habits by example. Snacking is not a bad thing as long as the food provides nutritional value instead of just empty calories. Whenever possible, parents should serve water instead of sodas and juices packed with sugars.

Sticking to a regular meal schedule will encourage good eating habits. Parents dealing with children who are finicky eaters may have to get creative at mealtime. Most kids hate plain vegetables but can be convinced to eat them with a nutritious dipping sauce. Cutting foods into shapes is a way to make dinner fun. Finding ways to encourage healthy eating for kids is challenging but necessary for proper growth and development.

Check out these tasty healthy eating for kids recipes and find out more about healthy eating for children.

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