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Kids Nutrition

Kids Nutrition


Make a schedule.

Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child's diet will be much more balanced and he'll be less cranky, because he won't be famished. I put a cooler in the car when I'm out with my kids and keep it stocked with carrots, pretzels, yogurt, and water so we don't have to rely on fast food.

Make mornings count.

Most families don't eat enough fiber on a daily basis, and breakfast is an easy place to sneak it in. Look for high-fiber cereals for a quick fix. Or, do what I do and make up batches of whole-grain pancake and waffle batter that last all week. For a batch that serves five, sift together 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. sugar. When you're ready to cook, mix in 2 Tbs. ground flax meal, 2 cups water, 3 Tbs. canola oil, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 2 Tbs. applesauce.

Cut back on junk.

Remember, you—not your kids—are in charge of the foods that enter the house. By having fewer junk foods around, you'll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

Dip it.

If your kids won't eat vegetables, experiment with dips. Kathleen tried her first vegetable when I served her a thinly cut carrot with some ranch salad dressing. My children also like hummus, salsa, and yogurt-based dressing.

 

9 Must-Eat Nutrients for Your Child

1. Protein

Protein helps a child's body build cells, break down food into energy, fight infection, and carry oxygen. Foods that contain high levels of protein include:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Dairy products

2. Carbohydrates

While the latest diet trend is to "cut the carbs," carbohydrates are actually the body's most important source of energy. They help a child's body to use fat and protein for building and repairing tissue. Carbohydrates come in several different forms (sugars, starches, and fiber), but kids should be eating more of the starches and fibers and less of the sugar. Foods that contain high levels of carbohydrates include:

  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Rice
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes

3. Fats

Fats are a great source of energy for kids and are easily stored in a child's body. They are also important in helping the body to properly use some of the other nutrients it needs. Foods that contain high levels of fats include:

  • Whole-milk dairy products
  • Cooking oils
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts

4. Calcium

Calcium is essential in helping to build a child's healthy bones and teeth. It's also important for blood clotting and for nerve, muscle, and heart function. Foods that contain high levels of calcium include:

  • Milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Egg yolks
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Tofu

5. Iron

Iron is necessary for a child to build healthy blood that carries oxygen to cells all over the body. Foods that contain high levels of iron include:

  • Red meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Iron-fortified cereals
  • 6. Folate

    Folate, necessary for soon-to-be moms, is also very important for kids. One of the B vitamins, folate is necessary for healthy growth and development of a child's cells. Lack of this vitamin can cause anemia. Foods that contain high levels of folate include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Black or kidney beans
  • Brussels sprouts

7. Fiber

Fiber helps produce bowel regularity in a child. It can also play a role in reducing the chances of heart disease and cancer later in life. Foods that contain high levels of fiber include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • 8. Vitamin A

    Vitamin A serves a variety of purposes in kids and adults. It helps growth, assists the eyes in adjusting to dim and bright lights, keeps skin healthy, and works to prevent infection. Foods that contain high levels of Vitamin A include:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Apricots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Fish oils
  • Egg yolks

9. Vitamin C

Vitamin C does more than just fighting off the common cold. It also holds the body's cells together, strengthens the walls of blood vessels, helps the body heal wounds, and is important for building strong bones and teeth. Foods that contain high levels of Vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits (such as oranges)
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Melons
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Papayas
  • Mangos


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