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Healthy Eating Tips For Kids

April 18, 2011

Growing children have many nutritional requirements that must be met so that they can maintain their health and energy as they experience growth and development. Of particular importance is the period when children attain school-going age. At this time, they are faced with several choices of food such as from the school cafeteria, what their peers are eating and after-school snacks. All this can have a lasting effect on their nutritional habits.

Along with growth requirements, physical activity also plays a key role in a child’s nutritional requirements. Gender, body size, genetic background and body shape are also involved.

Children require the same nutrients that adults too, although the amounts differ.  Carbohydrates and fats supply energy for growth and physical activity. Children often experience periods when rapid growth occurs. During such times, their appetites may increase and they many need food constantly.

As the growth spurt subsides, the appetites also decrease and they begin to eat less food. Protein is essential for the building, maintenance and repairing of body tissue. Protein is especially important for growth.

Children must be encouraged to eat 2 to 3 portions of fish, poultry, meat and other foods that are rich in protein. Milk and dairy products are also valuable sources of protein. There are many vitamins and minerals which promote growth and development during the growing years.

Calcium is an important nutrient of a child’s diet and can be obtained from milk, dairy products and leafy dark green vegetables. As the teenage years approach, most children do not take in enough calcium to meet their daily requirements. The strength of the teeth and bones is determined by the calcium intake. If enough calcium is not obtained during childhood, the bone density will suffer and diseases such as osteoporosis can occur in adulthood.

Many children suffer from iron deficiency anemia. Rapid growth causes the blood volume to expand and iron is needed during these times. Girls being to regularly lose iron through menstrual blood once they attain puberty. Dietary iron can be obtained from foods such as poultry, fish, meat and iron-fortified cereals and breads. In some cases, vitamin and mineral supplements may also become necessary. Children who do not consume adequate fruits and vegetables may face the risk of insufficient levels of vitamin A and C. The B complex vitamins are present in many foods such as grains, meats and dairy foods. Most children do not face a problem of insufficient intake of the B complex vitamins.

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