While many health foods that are good for adults are also good for children, children still have different nutritional needs than adults and as they age, especially between the ages of 2 and 12. As a parent, it can often be a struggle to get kids to eat well, especially with busy schedules and so many convenient packaged options. However, there are so many benefits to having children eat well and there are a variety of foods, supplements, and health products that can help your child achieve optimal nutrition and health.
Different Nutritional Needs
Adults and children need similar nutritions since everyone needs the same basic types of nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, proteins, and fat. However, children need these nutrients in different amounts.
Calorie Intake Per Day (dependent on gender and activity levels)
- 1 year and under – approx. 900 calories
- 2-3 years – approx. 1000-1400 calories
- 4-8 years – approx. 1200-2000 calories per day
- 14-18 years – approx. 1800-3000 calories per day
- Adults – approx. 2000-3000 calories
Healthy Fat Intake
- 2-3 years - 30-35% of calories from fat
- 4-18 years – 25-35 % of calories from fat
- Adults – 5-6% of calories from fat
The biggest difference between kids and adults, is that kid’s minds and bodies are constantly moving and growing meaning that nutritional deficiencies are more likely to effect their development or have lasting effects into adulthood.
How can Healthy Food and Supplements Benefit Kids?
Outside of making sure that kid’s grow up nutritionally sound, there are also a variety of other benefits for kid’s who eat healthy.
- Supports growth and development
- Builds a healthy relationship with food
- May help in lowering risks of mental health (ADHD, depression, anxiety)
- Maintain healthy weight and positive body image
- Stabilize their energy
How to Encourage Kids to Want to Eat Healthier
Kids aren’t naturally inclined to want junk food but rather have been shaped by eating habits and exposure to poor food choices. Here are some ways you can encourage your child to want to eat healthier.
- Be a role model. If you eat healthy, your kids will want to as well.
- Limit snacking and make only healthy snacks available.
- Go grocery shopping with kids.
- Disguise the taste of healthy foods in meals
- Focus on a good diet rather than specific foods
- Cook the majority of meals at home
- Eat together as family and have regular set meals
Best Types of Food for Children
Berries are high in fiber and vitamin C and lower in sugar than other fruits. They also taste great and are perfect for snacks which means it shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to get your child to eat them. Avoid giving your child fruit juice as they’re high in sugar and lack the nutrition that comes with whole fruits.
Loaded with protein and fiber, beans are nutritional powerhouses. What’s more, they’re cheap, easy to prepare, have a mild taste, versatile, and can easily be hidden in many meals. Fiber and protein help children feel fuller for longer and keeps their tummies happy.
Healthy fats are essential for kids and the avocado is a tasty way for kids to get the monounsaturated fats they need. Avocados are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes from smoothies, pasta sauces, and even desserts.
Just like with adults, fiber is something that is often lacking in most children’s diets. Most prepackaged snacks and breads contain only a fraction of 25g of fiber that kids need per day. Look for pastas, snacks, and breads that are wholegrain and double check the ingredients because food marketing can sometimes be deceiving.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide three different nutrients that kids need: fats, proteins and fiber. They’re also make great portable snacks. Natural butters made from peanuts, cashews and almonds go great with wholegrain breads and veggies too.
Eggs contain a lot of essential nutrients, for example, one large egg contains 6 grams of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron. Eggs are also extremely versatile and can be used for practically every meal.
A Variety of Rainbow Coloured Vegetables
Any vegetable you can get your child to eat is going to be good for them. The more colour the more variety of vitamins and nutrients that they’ll receive. Sweet potatoes and carrots are high in vitamin A, leafy greens are high in vitamin K, while peppers have lots of vitamin C. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are really high and fiber and are associated with reducing cancer-risks.
Fortified dairy and soy milks deliver protein, calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D, all of which are important for a child’s bone development.
Fish is a lean source of protein and oily and cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, also have omega-3 fatty acids, which support eye, brain and nerve development.