A Simplified Approach to Nutrition for Kids

Child eating a healthy lunch

Ensuring that kids get the right amount of nutrients is hard. But with their growing physical and mental development, it’s increasingly important to focus on quality nutrition. A nutritious diet for kids looks a lot like a nutritious adult diet. It consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and low-fat/fat-free foods. However, since kids grow and develop at a faster rate than adults, it becomes all the more important to ensure they get the nutrients needed.

Amidst the throes of adolescence, keeping track of the nutrients your children are getting can be tricky. However, there are some telltale signs that can help you determine if your child maintains a healthy diet: 

  • Lethargy, one of the main signs that a child isn’t getting enough nutrients, is often linked to an iron deficiency. 
  • Another sign is trouble paying attention, which is often linked to a deficiency in zinc. 
  • A child lacking vitamins, particularly A, E and D, could have dry skin and/or chronic constipation–which is often the result of a diet high in dairy. 
  • The last sign of a poor diet is severe or sudden weight loss. Largely due to poor nutritional intake, rapid weight loss can often be a sign of other health concerns. As always, it’s best to consult your pediatrician when any of these symptoms arise.  

To help you stay more aware of your child’s nutrition, we created a simplified approach to maintaining a healthy diet. 

  • The Plate Portion: When looking at a child’s plate, split it up into portions. About half of their plate should be fruits and vegetables, while the other half should be split by grains and proteins. 
  • Eliminate Empty Calories: According to the CDC, empty calories contribute to 40% of adolescents’ daily intake of calories. These empty calories most often come from fruit drinks, soda, dairy and grain desserts, and whole milk. An easy way to eliminate these is to switch out soda with water and desserts with fruits. 
  • Pack Lunches: It’s hard to control what goes into kids’ bodies when they aren’t at home. Lunches served in both the private and public education systems are notorious for being unhealthy, often packed with hidden sugars and saturated fats. By packing a daily lunch, you’re giving your child a healthy alternative that focuses on the plate portions you implement at home. An example of a nutritious, kid-friendly meal following the plate portion guidelines is a ham and cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread, with strawberries and carrots on the side. 
  • Prioritize Pediatric Care: Establishing a relationship with a pediatrics doctor is important for keeping kids healthy. As the key provider for understanding your kid’s body and health as a whole, regular visits with a pediatric doctor is the foundation of a healthy life. 

While it’s common knowledge that all kids are different, the same is true in the context of nutrition. The nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle differ from age to gender. For a more detailed look at what this entails, check out these guidelines from the Mayo Clinic.

Need help simplifying your approach to nutrition for kids? Call us today at 615-384-2411 or visit our website.