Updated: December 2023,
From birth to adulthood, kids need the right foods in order to grow and thrive. The brain needs the right nutrition to think correctly and the heart needs the right foods to stay healthy.
The nutritional needs of a child are constantly changing as he ages, and the nutritional needs have to be adjusted whenever there’s a growth spurt – such as puberty. When a child doesn’t eat right, it doesn’t just affect him now. If it continues, not eating the right kinds of foods can have lasting effects if not corrected.
Food is energy – and the right foods contain the vitamins and minerals a child needs to do well in life. Poor nutrition affects children physically, behaviorally and mentally. The way a child eats now can play a role in his health as an adult.
Not eating right affects a child’s learning skills and shows up in difficulty paying attention and poor academic performance. A child’s social skills are affected, too. When he’s not eating right, his ability to communicate is affected, he’ll be sluggish and poor nutrition can cause stunted growth and a poor ability in sports or group activities with his peers.
Having a poor diet can lead to a weakened immune system and prevent a child from being able to fight off illnesses. Another danger with children and nutrition is through forced extreme diets.
Any diet that completely removes any food group from the list is dangerous. Diets that are bad for children are diets that are too high in fiber, fad diets, low dairy and low fat or low carb diets.
Kids can’t thrive on a diet created with an adult’s nutritional needs in mind. If your child is struggling with a weight problem, focus on eating balanced meals, healthy snacks and moving more physically.
A child’s nutritional needs can be completely met by serving him a diet that’s balanced with correct servings for his age from the five food groups. Every child needs a healthy breakfast to start the day right.
Eating breakfast helps kids pay attention in school and it also helps with memory and cognitive skills. Breakfast helps prevent irritability and lethargy. Kids who eat a poor breakfast or skip it altogether are more at risk for weight struggles.
It can be difficult to get picky eaters to want to eat healthy foods of any kind, and one way to get around that is to limit the foods offered to your child to primarily healthy choices, instead of nothing but instant junk food.
But offer him some choices, otherwise, it can become a power struggle. Don’t make food boring. Use shapes, colors and colorful, fun dishes to serve the food on. Put vegetables into casseroles, soups and put fruit into blended fruit drinks or cereal.