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Fuelling the future: The science behind happy, healthy kids through nutrition

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria Adenwalla

Javeria is a writer, a yogi and an absolute lover of life. She reports live from the trenches of motherhood, stepping on metaphoric landmines, and sharing her experiences with unwavering optimism as she raises her three musketeers. Whenever life throws her off balance, she swivels back to zen mode with the power of yoga. When she’s not busy mastering the art of parenting,...
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 7 mins read

We all know that parenting comes with its fair share of challenges, from tantrums to sleepless nights. As the chaos of parenthood swirls around, nutrition remains the steadfast rock that anchors us to sanity, being the only thing that adheres to logic when dealing with kids.

As someone who’s been around the block a few times with this whole “raising kids” thing, I can tell you one thing for sure: they eat A LOT. And while it’s tempting to just toss ’em a bag of chips and call it a day, we all know that’s not going to cut it if we want these little munchkins to thrive. So, what exactly DO our kids need to be healthy and happy? Well, my dear comrades-in-parenting, the answer lies in the wondrous world of nutrients. From vitamins to minerals to all kinds of other good stuff, we’ll be diving deep into what our kids need to grow up strong, smart, and ready to take on the world. Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a nutrient-rich adventure!

Nutritional needs of a child: 

It’s no secret that kids require a lot of nutrients to grow and develop properly. I can, rightfully, sense your frustration with the overwhelming amount of information about this topic. It’s easy to get lost in the endless barrage of data and feel like a befuddled bystander. But fret not, my friend, for I am here to help guide you through this maze of knowledge. Together, let’s break down this topic in a way that will have you feeling like a savvy expert in no time.

So, what exactly are these nutritional needs?

1. Carbohydrates – the Energy Boosters

Carbs are like rocket fuel for your little ones! They’re what keep those tiny bodies zooming around, playing, and soaking up knowledge like sponges all day long.

Bread, pasta, rice, and fruit are just a few of the awesome carb-packed foods kids need to keep their engines revving.

2. Protein – the Building Blocks

Think of protein as the superhero of nutrients. It’s the one that swoops in to save the day whenever your child’s body needs a little extra help. Plus, it’s not just for meat-eaters anymore! There are tons of plant-based sources of protein that are just as tasty and nutritious. So whether your family is all about the burgers or the tofu, make sure you’re getting enough of this mighty nutrient to keep those kiddos growing strong.

Foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and lentils are rich in protein and should be a part of your child’s diet.

3. Fat – the Brain Booster

I know fat has been given a bad rap in the past, but it’s time to set the record straight: your child actually needs fat to develop a healthy, happy brain. Your child needs those healthy fats to build a strong, healthy brain. And the best part? Those fatty foods can be downright delicious! From guacamole to trail mix, there are tons of ways to incorporate healthy fats into your child’s diet without sacrificing taste.

Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon are all healthy fats. So don’t be afraid to add some healthy fat to your child’s diet, and watch their brains soar to new heights!

Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats, which can be harmful to their health. There’s a cool trick to spot unhealthy fats: If you check them out at room temperature, you’ll notice they stay solid.

4. Vitamins – the Immunity Boosters

Think of vitamins like your child’s very own superhero squad. Each one has its own special powers and abilities, from boosting the immune system to helping with digestion. And just like how every superhero needs a good team to save the day, your child needs a variety of vitamins to keep their body in tip-top shape. Some essential vitamins are:

  • Vitamin C and Vitamin D play a key role in keeping your child healthy and strong.
  • Vitamin C helps with wound healing and immune function.
  • Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth.

So make sure to include plenty of vitamin-rich foods in their diet, like colourful fruits and veggies, dairy products, and whole grains.

5. Minerals – the Bone Builders

Minerals are like the building blocks for your child’s strong bones and teeth. Yep, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are some of the superstar minerals that your little one needs to grow up healthy and strong.

  • Calcium is super important for bone and teeth development, but what most people don’t know is that it also helps with muscle function and nerve communication.
  • Magnesium is another MVP mineral that helps regulate heart rhythm and supports the immune system.
  • And last but not least, phosphorus is essential for energy production and cell growth.

So, whether you’re serving up some dairy products, leafy greens, or nuts and seeds, make sure your child is getting a healthy dose of these critical minerals every day. After all, strong bones and teeth are just the beginning of a healthy, happy life!

And lastly, lets not forget to give water the attention it deserves! We all know it is important for kids to eat their fruits and veggies, but hydration often gets out of the nutrition conversation. But here’s the thing:  water is a crucial nutrient too, and it is something we should be keeping an eye on like we do with all the other nutrients. So let’s make sure our little ones are drinking enough water to stay healthy and happy.

Nutrition chart for kids: 

If you still feel like you need a degree in rocket science just to figure out what to feed your kid, I feel you. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back with a handy nutrition chart. It’ll serve as a guide to make sure your little one is getting all the good stuff they need from each food group.

Now let’s get down to the part where we can connect all the dots by making it relatle with actual food choices. It might seem overwhelming at first, but trust me, it gets easier as you go along. And the best part? You’ll feel like a nutrition pro in no time, making healthy choices for your little ones like it’s second nature.

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Tips for ensuring your child’s nutritional needs are met: 

Now that we’ve mastered the basics of kid nutrition, it’s time to level up with some pro tips to get you started.

Lead by example: As parents, we are the biggest role models for our children. If we are eating a healthy and balanced diet, our children are more likely to do the same. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your own diet and your child will follow suit.

Get creative with meals: Kids can be picky eaters, so it’s important to get creative with meals. Try new recipes and flavours to keep things interesting. Get your child involved in meal planning and preparation to make it more fun and engaging.

Make snacks count: Snacks can be a great way to provide additional nutrients throughout the day. However, it’s important to choose healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Avoid processed and sugary snacks as much as possible.

Be patient: Getting your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet can be a challenge. Be patient and persistent. Keep offering healthy options and eventually, your child will develop a taste for them.

As a parent, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly walking a tightrope between giving your kids what they want and giving them what they need. But when it comes to nutrition, it’s all about finding that sweet spot between delicious and nutritious.

It’s totally okay to let your kids indulge in that occasional ice cream sundae or a candy bar, but remember to balance it out with plenty of healthy foods too. With a little creativity, you might just be able to turn those healthy meals into something that’s just as irresistible as a plate of cookies. After all, a well-fed kid is a happy kid, and a happy kid is a happy parent! So keep those little ones fueled up with the nutrients they need, and who knows, they might just surprise you with their adventurous taste buds.

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