Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
it really matter what they eat?
parent you are responsible for ensuring that your child does not go to bed
hungry at night. The feeding of your child. The question is whether it really
matters what food children eat. The answer is a resounding YES.
Food is the fuel for the body and, as
such, not only keeps the body running smoothly during the day but will also
determine the overall health of the body, now and in the future. By feeding
your children a variety of healthy natural foods you will not only give them the
best possible start in life but will also teach them how to feed themselves for
optimum health in the future. A simple way to ensure your children will be
healthy is to eat dinner with them.
Step Daily Plan for Childhood HealthSteps for the day that help to strengthen
Childhood Health :
1. A variety of Healthy Natural Foods
2. Plenty of water to drink
4. Love and family time
5. A good night’s sleep
Fruits and Vegetables
- In order to get all the required vitamins and
minerals, it is important to ensure that children receive at least 5 servings of
fruits and/or vegetables each day. 1 serving is equal to 1 small piece of
fruit, 1 cup of unsweetened juice or ½ -1 cup of prepared vegetables
(depending upon the size of the pieces)
- Fruits and vegetables start to lose their
nutrients from the second they are picked and continue to lose more as they are
processed and cooked. It is therefore best to purchase fresh fruit and
vegetables and prepare them yourself. If this is not possible, frozen
vegetables will retain more nutrients than canned vegetables.
- When buying fresh fruits and vegetables, organic
produce is a good option as it is free from chemical residues that put an
unnecessary burden on a child’s body, and it has not been genetically
modified. However, organic produce remains expensive in comparison to other
produce and the selection is more limited.
- All fruits and vegetables should be well washed
before consumption. There are now a number of good products on the market,
which are designed for washing produce. Water with a little bit of salt will do
the trick as well.
- Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli,
romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, collards and kale are some of the best
providers of vitamins and minerals. Certain minerals (iron, calcium), like all
vegetables they also provide you with vitamins. It is therefore important to
encourage your child to eat at least one serving of these vegetables each day.
One trick is to blend the greens into sauces including spaghetti sauce. Fruits
and vegetables that are red, orange or yellow are good sources of vitamins A and
C. These vitamins have been shown to be important for the immune system.
While children should be encouraged to consume at least one of these products
year round, in the winter months when the "flu/cold bugs" are around, keeping a
close tab on the consumption of these products may prove to be beneficial to
both you and your child.
- If your child is not eating sufficient amounts of
fruit and vegetables on a regular basis try different forms such as home made
popsicles made with real juice; sundaes made with fruit, or fruit kabobs rolled
in coconut sprinkles. You’ll be amazed at the results.
- If your child is still not consuming enough
fruits and vegetables, he/she may benefit from a daily multi vitamin-mineral
supplement. Make sure that you discuss this with a pediatrician prior to
beginning any supplementation.
- Whole grain products will give your child a
steady supply of energy as the food is digested and the nutrients absorbed. A
child should have at least 5 servings of grain products each day.
- Common grains include wheat, rye, rice and oats
which are then made into a variety of breads, pastries, pasta, cereals and other
baked goods. There are also a variety of other grains such as spelt, teff,
quinoa, and amaranth that are less common but can be used as a nutritious
alternative especially for those with wheat sensitivities.
- When choosing a grain product, your child’s
health will greatly benefit from whole grain products rather than those that use
white flour. When wheat is processed to make white flour it undergoes a variety
of procedures, including bleaching, which leave the final product with
significantly lower levels of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, Essential
Fatty Acids and fiber.
Fish and Alternatives
- 2-3 servings of high protein foods a day are
important as they supply the body with the raw materials to carry out a number
of functions including growth and repair to damaged cells.
- Meat is a very dense form of food and we do not
need huge amounts – a portion the size of the palm of your child’s
hand is sufficient. Low fat cuts of meat are preferable.
- Try not to feed children cured meats too often,
ham, salami, sausages and hot dogs, as these usually include high levels of
- Fish, particularly oily fish, is an excellent
source of protein and protein, omega 3, and omega 6 fatty acids, as well as
other nutrients for children. Good choices include salmon, halibut, mackerel,
herring and sardines.
- Dairy products such as cow and/or goat’s
milk, cheese and yogurt together with eggs are also good sources of protein.
- Not all protein products come from animals.
Products such as Tofu, tempeh and other soy foods are highly nutritious source
of protein, which is and are easily digested by children.
- Other protein sources include meals combining,
beans/pulses. Another way of getting protein is to combine your meal. By
combining incomplete proteins together in the right combinations, (beans/pulses,
whole grains and/or raw nuts and seeds.) you may put together the proper
chemical composition to have a complete protein.
Fats and Oils
- There is a high level of public awareness about
the potential for ill health when eating a high fat diet. However, it is
important to note that fat is an essential part of a balanced diet.
- The human body requires fat for brain
development, organ protection, tissue repair, growth, and production of
hormones. Without some fat, the body does not function at an optimal level.
- Be aware that Not all oils were created equal,
while some fats are not healthy choices (trans-fatty acids) not all fats and
oils are bad., there are some good quality oils (Essential Fatty Acids) that the
human body needs to get from food such as fish, raw nuts and seeds.
- Oils are extremely sensitive and can be damaged
by high heat (frying), light and oxygen, once they are damaged they are bad or
no longer as good for the body and in high quantities can actually cause damage
to the body.
- Cooking does however require oils so use. When
cooking using oils/fats such as butter, virgin olive oil and expeller pressed
safflower and/or sunflower oil kept in a dark bottle are better choices as these
compounds are better preserved at high temperatures.
- If your child does not eat fish regularly he/she
may be missing some essential fatty acids from their diet. Check with a
pediatrician as they may benefit from a supplementary form of Essential Fatty
Acids i.e. such as Flax seed oil.
- Time restraints on parents may make visits to
fast food outlets unavoidable. When there try to choose the healthiest option
- Our society has often used "treats" as rewards.
Teach your children the value of their accomplishments in forms other than food.
This can be in the form of a special event (sports/cultural/entertainment event)
or in the form of choosing an activity (painting pottery, sticker festival,
family day at the zoo, Halloween in April, etc.). This will not only allow
experimentation with new things, it will teach children about food as fuel, not
food as comfort.
- Many packaged/processed foods contain chemicals
in the forms of additives and preservatives. Foods targeted at children also
large contain flavour enhancers and colorings. In the end the closer that a
product is to its natural state the more nutrients it will provide your body
with. Whenever possible avoid consuming a lot of foods that has been processed,
and when consuming them keep in mind that in this case "quantity is small" is a