Kids Nutrition

Truth-be-told, adults tend to feed children differently then they feed themselves. In fact, I often see kids eating biscuits, sweets, and all other kinds of fatty and sugary snacks that are unhealthy for them.

 

When I ask parents why their kids eat those types of foods, I normally get the response that it’s more convenient to feed their kids processed or junk foods, than create healthier meals that take preparation. In a nutshell, these parents tell me that they simply run out of time to cook healthier meals.

 

Honestly, the time it takes to purchase “sweets” is the same time it takes to purchase “apples and nuts.” In addition, it takes the same amount of time to pick up processed chicken nuggets from a fast food chain that it does to bake hormone-free chicken breasts. Furthermore, steaming veggies takes the same amount effort that it takes to toast bread.

 

Another favorite excuse is “My kids simply won’t eat anything else.” A friend of mine shared with me how her mother would cook food and leave it on the table. If she, my friend, acted like she did not want what was prepared, her mum would smile and say, “Your food is on the table, should you change your mind.” Her mother did not prepare any more food; rather my friend could either eat the prepared food or go without. Sure enough, it didn’t take long before my friend, who was young and hungry, to return to the table to clean her plate – veggies and all!

 

I have no doubt that if parents could see into the future; they would realize that teaching unhealthy eating habits, even on accident, to their children could potentially really damage their health. My goal is to educate parents on proper nutrition for their kids; so hopefully, they can adopt healthy eating habits, thereby reducing their risks of health issues like: obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

 

It’s important to understand that proper nutrition at an early age is essential for physical and mental growth. Moreover, macronutrients, micronutrients, and phytochemicals are needed to provide your child with the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth and development. If your child’s diet is missing any other these important nutrients, during the developmental years, he or she will become vitamin/mineral deficient, leading to a host of unwanted scenarios like: chronic illnesses and diseases.

 

Also, research suggests that a “sugary diet” can have detrimental effects on nutrient absorption. (1) In fact, a recent study on the negative effects of a “sugary diet,” found that children, who regularly consume diets that are high in sugar, have a higher risk of becoming significantly deficient in zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

 

Furthermore, overall, caloric/energy intake plays an important role in a child’s growth and development. In fact, children, in general, require 15% – 25% more calories (per pound of body weight) than adults, in order to function at an optimal level.

 

Guidelines on proper caloric/energy intake are listed below:

 

kids-nutrition-chart

 

*** The Essentials of Sports and Exercise Nutrition, Center for National Health Statistics, 2000, and the Children’s Energy Needs Calculator NCRC at the Baylor College of Medicine.

 

Note: You can calculate these calories by using a calorie book, calorieking.com, or downloading the MyFitnessPal app. The only thing you will need to have to use these calorie aids is a food scale.

 

I would not recommend, however, having your kid count calories. Why? Well, because it can reinforce bad habits. It’s important that your child not base his or her self-worth on food scale or weight scale numbers. Estimate the amount of calories needed for your child, only after you have counted calories for approximately 7 to 10 days.

 

It’s also important to have your kid help with all areas of food preparation, because it will build healthy eating habits that he or she will carry throughout life. So, when you go grocery shopping, ask your kid to pick out a variety of colored veggies, read labels with him or her, and/or turn healthy grocery shopping into a fun, interactive game that everyone can enjoy. And, when you are in the kitchen, ask your child to help you peel fruits or prepare veggies.

 

Warning: Introducing healthy foods to your kid may initially be a struggle, especially if your child is used to eating junk foods, but in time and with plenty of healthy eating examples, your kid will learn to love nutritious foods. And, don’t worry, the time and effort you place on feeding your child healthy foods, will be rewarded when he or she starts reaching for a fruit bowl, instead of a bowl of ice cream.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not suggesting that your child never enjoy a bowl of ice cream again – that would be a travesty. Your kid can have ice cream just as long as it’s not two or three times a day and in large proportions. Moderation is the key. In addition, approximately 90% of your child’s nutrients should come from foods that are natural, organic, and from the land.

 

Listed below are Precision Nutrition’s 21 Super Foods:

 

  1. Lean Red Meats (i.e. Grass-Fed, preferably)
  2. Salmon (i.e. Wild-Caught)
  3. Eggs (i.e. Omega-3 and Cage-Free, preferably)
  4. Plain Greek Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, or Coconut Yogurt
  5. Protein Supplements (i.e. Whey, Milk or Plant Protein Sources)
  6. Spinach
  7. Tomatoes
  8. Cruciferous Vegetables (i.e. Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower)
  9. Mixed Berries
  10. Oranges
  11. Mixed Beans
  12. Quinoa
  13. Whole Oats
  14. Raw, Unsalted Mixed Nuts
  15. Avocados
  16. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  17. Fish Oil (i.e. Algae Oil)
  18. Flax Seeds (Ground)
  19. Green Tea
  20. Liquid Exercise Drinks
  21. Greens + Vegetable Concentrate

 

 

Example: Let’s assume your child is a10-year-old girl, who is active. She also enjoys engaging in some form of physical training like: CrossFit Kids. Well, your child should be consuming between 2,400-2,500 calories, per day. So, in order to consume that amount of food, she will need to eat at least three good meals with each meal containing roughly 500 calories and 2-3 snacks of 200 calories each, per day.

 

Therefore, according to the 90% rule, your child is allowed to consume between 240 and 250 of her calories from her favorite foods. Now, she doesn’t need to know the amount of calories, but as her loving parent, you can allow her to have a small bowl of ice cream, once a day (it doesn’t matter the flavor), without it affecting her health and well-being. However, if you allow her to eat multiple sources of unhealthy, junky foods, throughout the day; she will probably over-exceed her daily caloric allowance, possibly leading to a host of negative health effects.

 

Coach Cyrus

Reference:

 

Gibson, S., Francis, L., Newens, K., Livingstone, B. (2016). Associations between free sugars and nutrient intakes among children and adolescents in the UK. British Journal of Nutrition, 116(7), 1265-1274. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27641637