Children grow very quickly and they are also easily impressionable. With balanced nutrition, children can grow both mentally and physically at a natural pace so that their immune systems stay strong and therefore, they have a healthier future. Nutrition for children isn’t as simple as it used to be. There are so many different theories and takes about balanced nutrition for children, but here, I am going to simplify it out for you from both the Ayurvedic and Modern Nutrition perspective. I’m going to give my top tips about keeping children healthy and how to inspire them to make healthier choices.
1) First and foremost, if your child is falling back in school, has missed any developmental milestones, has learning disabilities, has eczema or skin conditions, or is experiencing digestive discomfort, be sure to have it checked by their doctor and consult with a nutritionist because they may be in need of personalised nutrition care. The earlier you face the problem head on, the greater chance you give to your child.
2) Next most important thing is that children learn from watching their parents and older siblings. Set a good example for your children by eating whole-grains along with fresh fruit and vegetables. The more varied your diet is, the more likely your child will want to try a variety of foods. Since children learn by example, be sure to have at least one meal a day as a family so that your kids can see what you are eating. Children who eat with their parents and see their parents eat healthy and exercise are more likely to follow their example as they grow up.
3) Ensure that your children have a balanced diet by feeding them plenty of fruits and vegetables. Children can often be picky about what they eat. But no matter what, always ensure that there is at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. Keep tastes as natural as possible by keeping sugary and salty foods to a minimum. In fact, its best to have more fruit and vegetable than grains. If your child is a picky eater then add vegetables into a tomato based sauce. Although children love pastas and breads, be sure to include fruits and vegetables. All children must have fruits, vegetables, and a protein source at every meal.
4) Cleaning out the pantry is very important. Avoid keeping cakes, pastries, muffins, biscuits, and other processed foods in the house. If these treats stay out of the house then they stay out of the mind. Always keep fresh fruit around along with healthy crackers, such as Ryvita, along with fresh dips such as guacamole and salsa. Children love colour, so keep the variety of food colourful. The more refined foods (such as white bread, pastas, and biscuits) children have, the more likely they are to not like other tastes. Children love food with texture, so try making your own granola bars or flapjacks, or cut them carrot sticks or celery. A great alternative is kale crisps, which children also love. Let me know if you would like some recipes.
5) Last but not least, keep your children hydrated. Ensure that they drink plenty of water daily. Avoid all squashes and cordials as they are filled with sugar. And even packed school lunches should have water and not Capri-Suns, which are also packed with sugar. Get your children into the habit of drinking water, which is excellent for their overall health.
I also get asked about supplements for children. There are some cases in which children absolutely need to take supplements, but in most cases, its not necessary (unless prescribed by the GP). And even when selecting supplements, ensure that they are top quality and nothing cheap which contain more additives and sugars than nutrients. Keep in mind that when you feed your children, the more added sugar or refined sugars any food has, the less nutrients they will get from their food. So keep desserts to a minimum (once a week treat) and get your children comfortable with eating clean, fresh, and whole foods. Same principle applies to infant formulas, most of which contain artificial sugars, sweeteners, and additives. For alternative options, please do contact me.
All in all, the best advice for optimal nutrition for children is to eat organic when possible and to fill your child’s diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, lean meats, and whole-dairy products. And remember, if you suspect food allergies or intolerances, do get them tested (via a blood test) and eliminate those foods. Good health for your children begins at home. Whether they are picky eaters or have food allergies or learning difficulties, there is always something that can be done to help and support them.
If you are facing any challenges with your child’s health or nutrition, please do get in touch with me for a no-obligation chat about how I may be able to help.
Health and happiness,