Three benefits of giving your child a balanced (healthy) diet

This is a follow-up article on Eating an egg a day might help children to grow taller.

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As noted in the previous article, it is not enough to give a child an egg (or just one food type) to prevent stunting. The key to normal growth in children lies in making a balanced diet the cornerstone of children’s nutrition. This, needless to say, comes with many great benefits, which has been summarised by livestrong.com as follows:

 

1. It promotes strong healthy growth

“Children have important daily dietary needs to support continued growth and physical development. Foods that contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates and protein will provide the nutrients necessary for growth and development.” Furthermore, it is recommended by health professionals that children eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.

 

2. It is good for brain development

“Children who eat a healthy diet also receive direct brain development benefits, according to research associate Marc Goodman-Bryan with The Urban Child Institute. For example, if a child does not receive an adequate intake of iodine and iron, she may experience both cognitive delays and motor development delays. A child whose diet is deficient in the essential fatty acid DHA might experience delays in learning and development.”

 

3. It reduces health problems

“Eating healthy foods can also reduce the health problems faced by children. Children served healthy foods regularly may experience fewer cavities. Many chronic health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, have roots that trace back to an unhealthy childhood diet. When children start life with whole and healthy foods, they may avoid many heath issues that can affect them both during childhood and into adulthood.”

 

While many parents are aware of the benefits associated with giving their kids a balanced diet, this may sometimes prove difficult, as everyone knows, some children can be very fussy with food. Here is some practical advice from nutrition resource to help parents cope with the issue.

 

1. Enjoying a varied diet

A varied diet will help ensure that the child gets the different nutrients that they need. Aim for three balanced meals a day and up to two healthy snacks. Use different protein sources in each meal and different varieties of vegetables.

 

2. Having a healthy relationship with food

Ensuring children have a healthy relationship with food will establish a positive attitude to eating in the long-run. Try to teach them about food and nutrition (for example where their food comes from) and get them cooking early on.

 

3. Following the Eatwell Guide summarised here

Getting the right amount of food groups in their diet promotes health and well-being.

 

4. Encouraging appropriate portion sizes

Get used to dishing up ‘me-sized plates’ instead of adult-sized plates as this can encourage overeating. Avoid forcing your child to clear their plate if they are not hungry.

 

5. Finding support

Bear in mind that every family is different and children will naturally differ in what they require nutritionally depending on age, weight and height. Seek professional advice if you are concerned that your child is not getting a fully rounded diet.

 

Sources for this article

livestrong.com

Nutritionist resources UK

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