It’s all In the Food…Just a fork full away
Providing your child with good eating habits promotes lifelong good health. Food provides the energy that children need to grow strong, learn successfully, play creatively and explore the world around them. American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP) encourages families to think of their nutritional decisions as health decisions.
There is 50 plus minerals, including, iron, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, etc, the water –soluble vitamins: (B vitamins and C): and the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are essential to a child’s health throughout their lifetime.
I interviewed 3 nutrition specialists: Sabrina Candelaria, Register dietician at the University of Miami at Miller School of Medicine; Sarah Krieger MPH. RD All Children’s Hospital St. Petersburg, Florida and Dr. Jose Rosa-Olivares, general pediatrician, Miami Children’s Hospital. All three were in agreement on one issue: “parents need to focus on their child’s diet before concerning themselves with vitamins and supplements.”
At what age shall we begin giving our children vitamins? Vitamins are essential to a child’s lifelong health. All children need the same kinds of nutrients, but the amount of each nutrient differs according to age, thus it is essential provide the child with food rich in vitamins and minerals. The child’s diet is vitally important; therefore it is imperative that parents are armed with proper nutritional knowledge as they prepare the child’s daily meals. The healthier your child eats, the more nutritious he remains; however, as children become older and more independent, their food choices change. So with that added independence how do you get nutritious food into your children?
The following are seven incentives for parents to encourage their child’s nutritional knowledge and proper daily food intake on his lifetime journey. The following seven incentives can be used to educate the children and encourage them to take the vitamins, and minerals:
· Parent…Be aware…your child is watching you. You need to be aware of your nutritional habits. It’s imperative that you teach positive eating habit. Moreover, it’s mandatory that you eat a variety of foods from the four food groups, (insert groups here) in order for your child to develop the same habit. Model proper food choices at all times for your child, beginning at birth, children imitate what they see.
· It’s best to give 5-6 small meals a day, to encourage the child to intake the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals in each serving.
· Examine the vitamin and mineral content of a food and figure out at what stage in your child’s development it would be most beneficial for them to benefit and grow from it. For example, what stage is the brain developing? What foods do they need to consume in order to develop wholly in that stage, and benefit from the vitamins and minerals specifically in that food?
· Teach children to recognize their appropriate nutritional intake is essential to their vitamins, intake, thus they will continue to eat well when they are alone with their peers.
· About school age, children tend to be influenced by their friends, and become more selective about their food choices so it’s imperative that you arm your child with proper nutritional knowledge as you prepare your child’s daily meals.
· Write a grocery list, that covers the spectrum of the four food groups with your child. Be sure to get your child to select foods from the four food groups; continue to educate.
- Teach your child to read the labels before purchasing food to ensure the required vitamin and nutrient content.
- Make a weekly menu with your child. At younger ages, use pictures to make a list.
- Create a social gathering for your child or with your child, and always use their input to define the menu.
Supplement indicators: If the child neglects a food group for days, it might be an indication that they are not receiving all of these nutrients. At this point, you may need to supplement the child’s diet. A vitamin’s or minerals can supplement a healthy diet but do not to replace nutritious food. It’s not just, about their eating but the overall education, says Sarah Krieger MPH. RD All Children’s Hospital St. Petersburg, Florida; again, she reiterates, “that’s exactly, what vitamins are, supplements.”
Whenever you think, your child may be in need of supplements it’s time to consult your pediatrician. A pediatrician can prescribe the appropriate vitamins to supplement your child’s nutrional intake. Krieger advises parents to read the labels and purchase whole food verses synthetic supplements.
Advisably, nutrition should come from foods first and if the child is not eating well then they should be supplemented with chewable multi-vitamin. Dr. Jose Olivera warns, “Parents need to make sure that their children understand that the cutesy chewable vitamins are not candies. Supervise the kids intake an explain it to tell because vitamin overdose can cause negative effects. “
If you follow these steps then have no fear, you have created great habits so continue to foster these habits and continue to educate your child about the practices of healthy eating.