Putting your child on a “diet” in the usual sense of the word probably isn’t the best idea. To be more clear I mean making your children lose or gain weight unnaturally due to dieting generally doesn’t play out well.
To give you an idea of the concerns and the dangers you should think along with dieting, consider how some adults try to lose weight. In a study funded and conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) it was revealed that liquid diets, nonprescription diet pills, and popular diets had no association with weight loss among obese U.S. adults.
The ineffective dieting methods listed above are relatively harmless for adults. But when it comes to children it could lead to serious cases of malnutrition.
Children are at a very important point in their development. So it’s important to be cautious, prudent, and knowledgeable when feeding them meals. According to another NIH study, poor nutrition as a result of some neglect in foster homes lead to undesirable cognitive outcomes.
It’s important to get this confusion out of the way. The meaning of a diet in the context of an adult should be completely separate from what it means for children.
It sounds like quite a bit of common sense, but it’s still an important point to drive home to prevent any misconceptions from arising. With that out of the way, let’s look at some of good, nutritional choices you can make for children.
General Dieting Guidelines for Children
You want to be very thorough in your research for which nutrients are generally required for children at a specific age. While searching for information, you also want to think about the reliability of your sources and the origin of your food.
You don’t want to stumble across the opinions of an opinionated and uneducated blogger and mistake them for rules of thumb on child nutrition. Make sure to steer clear of those sorts of shady and unreputable sources during your research.
There are few sources that you should follow to ensure the best diet for children:
Government Websites and Agencies
Instead of relying on uncredited individuals, make use of properly researched and officially presented information by the U.S. government websites to create an appropriate set of general dieting guidelines for your child or children. Take the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is responsible for feeding 4.2 million children.
There are a variety of well-arranged, peer-reviewed, and safe guidelines for children’s nutrition on the sites of government organizations like the CACFP. Take a look at some of these suggestions for child meal patterns.
Making at least 1 or 2 servings of fruit or vegetable a snack
Serve a variety of fruits and choose whole fruits over juice
Provide at least one serving of “dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas (legumes), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables once per week”
Two servings of whole grain rich grains per day
Serving only lean meats, nuts, and legumes
Reduce the consumption of added sugars and saturated fats
You probably get the point, you can find all this information in its entire form online. What’s even better, the represent the best guidelines specified by a reliable source that has invested a ton of money into that research, the USDA.
It’s another natural conclusion. Government and medical organizations have the best interests and resources in mind for the children of their citizens. It’s no surprise that the diets they suggest are the best and backed by the most proof and research.
Let’s take a look at another approach to diets by Mayo Clinic. This approach focuses less on simply telling you to get this list of foods. It also focuses on why they’re necessary. Mayo Clinic the situation of suitable child nutrition down by relating it to the needs of adults in terms of the major groups of nutrients: minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
This medical perspective is useful because it helps give you justification for making wise choices when choosing food for your children in the face of unfamiliar options. For the most part, the information on Mayo Clinic emphasizes and confirms the points made by the collaborative post by the USDA and CACFP. However, it also gets into greater specifics regarding the exact amount of each serving during the different periods of childhood. This is useful as well because children at different ages will be at different developmental phases and require more or less types of food to consume depending on their individual situation.