We all know the importance of eating a balanced diet. Food is how we get the vast majority of our nutrients, which are essential for our ongoing health. So, although we all have our favorite foods, we also know that there has to be some other stuff on the plate whenever we sit to eat. Even if you have to think of the broccoli in your meal as a form of tax you have to pay in order to enjoy the marinated chicken fillet, it’s important to make sure you’re getting as broad a spectrum of nutrients as possible.
We, as adults, know that, and we can also acknowledge from experience that there are repercussions for skipping out on important nutrients. Go a few days without protein and you will feel awful. Miss out on fats and watch your metabolism pay the consequences. Kids aren’t as aware of these things, and they will be resistant to eating things they don’t like the taste of, or which they have never eaten before but take a visceral dislike to. And so sometimes you have to be satisfied with winning half the battle when it comes to getting your kid to eat the right things. As long as you can make sure they’re getting the following, it’s a start.
This is probably the single most important nutrient in anyone’s diet, kids and adults alike. Protein is a fundamental building block for most of the remotely important functions of your body, and even more so for kids. Muscle, ligaments and most of the tissues that make our bodies are grown from protein. Furthermore, it is essential to the building of our immune systems. As adults, we’ve had the time to develop an immune system, but your kids need this nutrient, gained from lean meat, nuts, eggs and dairy products, in order to deal with bugs and viruses. When selecting easy snacks for kids, make sure you’re getting protein in there.
Kids’ bones are softer than those of adults, which is part of the reason why so many of us have a tale from childhood of an accident in which we suffered a broken bone. They need to build over time, and stronger bones allow the rest of our body to get stronger too. Calcium is primarily available in milks – from standard milk to fortified soy milk if your kid is lactose-intolerant. It’s also generally a good idea to give calcium supplements in order to back up the effects of dietary calcium. As an addendum to this, try to keep your kid from drinking as much cola as they tend to want – darker sodas tend to contain phosphoric acid, which negates a lot of the benefits of calcium.
Without iron, you can’t make red blood cells. Without red blood cells, your heart struggles to move oxygen around your body, feeding your tissues and regulating all the processes of your body, including growth. A diet without iron – which can be found in red meat, green leafy veg and tuna among other sources – will have dramatic negative consequences, including anemia. It’s another nutrient which should be supplemented if your kid’s diet falls on the lighter side when it comes to dietary sources.
This is a contributed post