Monday 6 October 2014

How having a balanced diet is important for a child's development

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Sienna choosing salad over Steak!

The first few years of a child’s development are very important in terms of physical, cognitive, and behavioral development. Newborns double their weight by the time they reach their sixth month, and triple the initial weight when they reach one year. From 2-5 years of age, children gain around 2 kilograms per year. From 6 – 10 years of age, kids gain about 3 kilograms per year due to growth spurts. From 9 years of age, the child will enter puberty and experience the final growth spurt. A child’s development relies heavily on his daily food diet. Thus, having a healthy and balanced diet will ensure that a child will reach his utmost development potential.

A Balanced Diet
Kids need a balanced diet of key nutrients found in their food to reach optimal growth. Some of these key nutrients include protein, fat, carbohydrate, calcium, and fiber. Protein found in lean meats, eggs, fish, poultry, nuts, cheese, and beans will help the child build tissue and muscle. Carbohydrates from dairy products, starches, and vegetables are sources of energy. Fats found in fatty meats and fish can be stored and be used as energy. Calcium from dairy products is necessary for bone building and teeth development. Lastly, fiber from legumes and whole grain products is useful for the digestive system. To check the nutritional value of food items available for children, NutritionalInformation Database Download contains detailedinformation consisting of more than 50,000 food items and theirnutrition information.

Why it is important
Having a balanced diet enables children to reach optimal growth potential. Healthy eating preferences during early childhood influences height, immunity, and general health. Furthermore, a healthy diet influences a child’s brain development. Poor nutrition during the early years can lead to lower IQ levels as well as learning disabilities. Social and behavioral problems, particularly attentional issues, are also linked with poor eating habits and poor nutrition during early childhood.

Early food choices influence the child’s health even in later life. Healthy eating habits in early life will translate to healthy eating habits in adulthood. Healthy eating can also prevent childhood obesity. Obesity is prevalent in American children, with almost 1 out of 3 children being overweight or obese. Childhood obesity leads to some chronic diseases include diabetes and high blood pressure. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a habit that has to be learned from childhood. A healthy diet early in childhood will teach the child to prefer healthier food choices in later life. In this day and age of fast food items, store-bought frozen food items, and salty junk foods, learning to prefer healthier food choices is important. Fresh food such as fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of a child’s diet. Dairy products and fatty meats should be kept to the minimum. Frozen food items should be avoided or minimized. Overly sweet products such as candy and chocolates should also be consumed minimally to avoid diabetes and other weight-related issues.

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