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Nutrition for children: Guidelines to a healthy and balanced diet

by Editorial Team | December 21st, 2020 | Elementary

The nutrition of the children is one of the things that most concern parents. Which nutrients are necessary and in what amounts, are a few of the main questions they formulate to experts. Therefore, in this post, we will provide you with some guidelines to a healthy diet for your kids, considering the ideal nutrition according to their age.

The first thing you should know is that kids need the same nutrients as adults; there is no difference in the type of nutrients they must consume, only in the amount. Such nutrients are minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fat and protein. It is important to consider, children need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. You can cover this needs with a healthy and balanced diet, but you can also complement it with everyday essential supplements for kids (in case you need to stabilize a specific nutrient quickly)

Formula to a healthy diet for your kids

These are nutrition basics to give your kids a diet that allows them to grow and develop healthy and correctly. These guidelines are for both boys and girls of different ages, and are based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They consider these nutrient dense foods:

  • Fruits: It is important to encourage kids to eat fruits. Fresh fruits are the best, but you can opt for frozen or dried fruits. These last ones are full of nutrients but eating a lot of them can add too much sugar to the diet. Keep in mind that one-quarter cup of dried fruits is equivalent to a cup of the same fruit in its natural state. You can offer your kids fruit juice, but make sure it is 100% juice without added sugars, and remember that drinking juice is not the same as eating the fruit, since most nutrients and vitamins are in the shin and pulp.
  • Protein: Incorporate to your kids’ diet some seafood, eggs, beans, soy products, lean meat and poultry, peas and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Grains: Always choose whole grains, instead of regular bread incorporate whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and popcorn. Try to eliminate refined grains such white bread, flour, pasta and rice.
  • Vegetables: As fruits, you should encourage your kids to eat all kinds of vegetables. They can be fresh, frozen or dried. Try to include a variety of vegetables in at least one meal of the day, every day. Cover the color spectrum (as with fruits) and keep in mind a simple rule: “the richer the color, the healthier the food”.
  • Dairy: Instead of giving your kids regular milk, encourage them to drink fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.
  • Fats: Not all fats are bad, some of them are healthy, like the ones we find in fish, nuts, vegetables oils and seeds. What you need to avoid are saturated and trans fats.

Food your kids should avoid or eat in very limited amounts:

  • Refined sugar: It is better to eliminate refined sugars from the kid´s (and everyone’s) diet. Products like sweetened breakfast cereals, sodas, pastries, artificial juices and candy or similar, are no good. If it is possible you should encourage your kids to avoid consuming any of these products at all, but we realize sometimes that is a complicated task in today’s society. Therefore, instead of banning these products, you can limit their consumption to the minimum.
  • Saturated and trans fat: Limit saturated fats, these are the ones that are mainly found in animal sources of food, like red meat, full-fat dairy products, and poultry. Try to replace saturated fats with nut and vegetable oils; these provide vitamin E and essential fatty acids. You can also find healthy fats in olives, avocados, nuts and seafood. The products that contain trans fats are the ones that have partially hydrogenated oil; you should avoid them or limit their consumption.

The importance of eating healthy

Ensuring your children are eating healthy is extremely important. Healthful eating brings many benefits for your kids. It helps them to stabilize their energy, and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps prevent mental health conditions, like depression, ADHD or anxiety. A healthy diet improves your kid’s minds and even out their moods. It will strengthen their immune system and prevent chronic diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

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