Best Foods for Kids
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to eating healthy is knowing which foods to eat and which foods to avoid. Not an easy task when you consider what you’re up against. Food companies spend billions of dollars in advertising and paid research to keep you confused. Misleading you with false information makes it easier for companies to sell you poor quality food that is often hazardous to your health.
This is especially true for children. What your child eats today will have a significant impact on his or her health and development throughout life. The nutritional needs of children are greater than those of adults. Kids need a high intake of nutritious foods since nutrients are the building blocks for a developing body (for example the immune system, brain development, cardiovascular system, etc).
In order to ensure your child’s dietary needs are being met, you’ll have to become a bit of a “deficiency detective”. Not in the sense you need to spy on them. But you do need to be on the lookout for physical signs and behaviors that are strong indicators your child may have deficiencies. To help you out, I’ve created a quick reference guide highlighting the most important health issues for school-age children.
Hopefully by the time your child turns four, you’ve been able to identify major food allergies. The most common food allergies include milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts, soy and shellfish. I also encourage you to be on the look-out for food sensitivities in your child. Food sensitivities can cause subtle symptoms that may persist and appear to be totally unrelated to a specific food.
Some common allergy symptoms that can be the result of a sensitivity to certain foods include gas, stomach ache, diarrhea, earaches, ear infections, irritability, and dark circles under the eyes. Food sensitives are easily overlooked by doctors because they don’t tend to show up in test that measure a histamine reaction. Take notice of any patterns by keeping food journals so you can hone in on the food culprit and eliminate it from your child’s diet.
Essential fatty acids (in the form of DHA, GLA, and EPA) are vital nutrients for brain development. They help to promote not only development, but learning comprehension and mood stabilization. Fat cells make up a good majority of brain matter which is why delays and learning disabilities are being linked to fatty acid deficiencies. Be sure your child is getting plenty of fish, seeds, and nuts in their diet or supplement their diet with an Omega 3 fish oil supplement made from wild caught fish.
Children of this age are undergoing a constant and rapid pace of physical development. Growth requires a significant source of energy from carbohydrates and proteins for the development and maintenance of body tissues. Whole grains like oats and brown rice are good sources of carbohydrates while lean chicken, fish, beans, lentils, eggs and nuts/seeds are good sources of proteins. Try to avoid giving your child processed meats of any kinds. They contain harmful additives that can often disrupt the digestion process.
Where ever there are groups of children, there are bound to be germs-a-plenty. Schools are big Petri dishes which puts your child’s immune system to the test. Try not to worry so much about your child getting sick. I know that’s easier said than done but there is a benefit to being exposed to germs. A child’s immune system is not like that of an adult’s. It needs to learn how to identify and attack foreign invaders. The more practice it gets, the better it gets at its job. You can help to strengthen your child’s immune system by adding foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, lemons, lime juice, broccoli, berries) and zinc (chicken, beans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, crab).