Youth Health Series: What should my child eat?
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Often times we as adults don’t even know what to eat for a healthy and balanced diet, so when we become parents, this spills over to our children. What should my child eat?
A good question to ask is, what shouldn’t my child eat? Well, the simplest answer is to ask, would I feed my dog Cheetos, Doritos, Sugary Cakes and Pastries every day, etc? If you answered no to that question then I ask you, why are you feeding this to your kids? If this stuff isn’t even good enough for dogs, then why is it a staple of your child’s diet? Now, sure you can have one of these items as a rare treat, but these are not appropriate for a balanced and healthy diet.
As parents you are responsible for what your child consumes. Just like “you are what you eat”, your child is what you feed them. Feed them junk and guess what? Children have awesome metabolisms, but that can easily be destroyed by what and when you feed your child. Going through long periods without caloric intake is devastating to the metabolism. Eating large quantities of sugar, processed foods and calories is also damaging. So portion control and healthy choices are in order.
The goal with children is no different from that of an adult. The ultimate goal is to keep a steady level of insulin and energy levels in the body. By providing the body with the right types of carbohydrates, high fiber, good quality protein and essential fats, you can set your child on the right track to becoming a healthy adult.
Protein is absolutely necessary for a child’s diet. Proteins consist of amino acids, which are the body’s building blocks. Children are constantly growing and utilizing energy. Muscle breakdown and repair is rapid and having the right amount of amino acids available their body is essential. Some good sources of protein for your children are nut milks (check for allergies), eggs, lean meats, poultry and fish, as well as quinoa and actual nuts. Green leafy vegetables are a great source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Each day your child’s diet should consist of a mixture of these foods.
Carbohydrates are absolutely necessary for children and adults the same. Children should never be on a carbohydrate restriction unless prescribed by a doctor and even then the only carbohydrates that should be limited are simple carbohydrates from packaged goods, refined sugars from soft drinks and juices, candies and snacks.
The carbohydrates from fresh fruits and vegetables are a must. These complex carbohydrates are essential for your child’s energy. The additional fiber in fruits allows for a slower uptake of the sugars so that your child’s insulin levels don’t spike sending them through bouts of hyperactivity and then into low groggy periods. Fiber is essential for keeping cholesterol low and also contributes to a healthy digestive tract and arteries. Not to mention all the essential vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables, and contribute to a well balanced nutritious diet.
Essential fats can be obtained through nuts. Almonds and walnuts would be two of the highest sources of essential fats among nuts. Can’t have nuts then try seeds. Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds are good. Chia Seeds, Flax and Sesame seeds are also good for you. Coconut meat, coconut milk, avocados are also good choices. They can also be obtained from fish like salmon and tuna. These essentials play a major role in memory function, as well as the reduction of cholesterol and body fat. Including these fats in your child’s diet is absolutely necessary.
Giving your child healthy and balanced diet options creates a great foundation for their life. Nurture your child and give them the tools to better cope with the rigors and stresses of life, starting at ground zero…their diet.
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