A healthy diet for your child is essential to ensure that they develop and grow properly. As a parent, it can feel like a lot of responsibility to know just what your child needs. That’s why we’re here.
If you don’t know how to go about understanding what kind of diet is best for your child, we can help! Here at Northeast Pediatric Associates PA, not only are we board-certified pediatricians and practitioners, but we’re a team of nutrition specialists.
Why eat healthy
Food is fuel. But it can also wreak havoc on our bodies when we don’t eat the right things.
Healthy eating promotes:
- Strong bones
- Clear thinking
- Healthy teeth
- Weight management
- Prevention of chronic diseases
But how do you know where to start when it comes to your child’s diet?
What your child needs
Nutrition for children is the same as nutrition for adults. We all need nutrients, which includes vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. The amounts of each vary at different stages of growth, and we can provide guidance for you at each wellness visit for your child.
So, what does your child need? Let’s start with fruits and vegetables. When giving your child food on a plate, think about color. The more colorful — the healthier. They’re full of nutrients, fiber, and minerals to keep your child’s immune system strong. Be sure to help them get five or more servings a day, which you can spread out over several meals.
Other nutrient-dense foods include:
Meats like seafood and poultry are lean and can help your child’s growth and development stay on track. You can also choose beans, peas, eggs, nuts, and soy products.
Whole grains like wild rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, and quinoa are excellent sources of healthy carbohydrates.
Fat-free and low-fat dairy products, like yogurt, cheese, and milk are sources of dairy that can help your child’s bones grow and be strong.
Now that you know the categories for which to aim, here’s what they don’t need.
What you should limit for your child
Too much sugar can have negative effects on more than just the growth of their bodies. It can also affect their behavior, disrupt their energy levels, and even invite sickness. So, be sure to limit added sugars, and stick to natural ones that are in fruit.
You should also limit saturated fats, which most come from animal sources, like red meat. You can replace the fats with vegetable and nut oils that provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. You can also choose natural, healthy fats found in foods, such as olives, avocados, and seafood.
Sodium can be hidden in chips and cookies. To keep their sodium low, encourage them to eat fruits and vegetables.
Additional steps to help
Remember that your child is watching you, so modeling healthy eating habits as a parent is a great way to encourage healthy eating for the whole family. It’s one thing to try to instill good eating habits in your children, but if you show them the way, they’re more likely to choose the same eating habits as you.
If you have questions about your child’s eating habits or diet, make an appointment with our team. We’re happy to sit down and talk with you to give you some clear-cut guidelines on what nutritional choices are best for your child. Give us a call today.