We all know that kids can be difficult. They can be everything from finicky eaters to never “having the time” to eat. In fact, they seem to always have something else to do that is MUCH more important at the precise times of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although we understand that kids can always find something better to do than sit still and eat, we also need to recognize they aren’t going to starve themselves either. That’s the beautiful thing about the human body, no matter your age, it does NOT want to starve itself and will make sure you feed it before something dangerous happens. However, the key is to make sure that when kids do decide to eat, that they make the right choices.
We need to have a certain degree of respect for our children’s needs and wants when it comes down to nutrition. I’m not saying that we allow them to eat whatever they want, but I am advising that you respect their appetite. Eating can become a very psychological exercise for children. If at the dinner table it’s always lectures and stern commands of “finish your plate”, it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration during eating times which research has shown can cause OVEREATING. When a child says they are finished, many times this is true, we need to respect their appetite, it changes just as regularly as ours does. It is critical that we make sure they get a wide variety of nutrition and they do not just eat the “good” stuff, but if a child decides that after eating a little bit of everything they are finished, we are best to mind his appetite and “release” him from the table.
Many eating behavior therapists and child psychologists have noted that even though adults should understand (and often “test”) when a child says they have had enough, it is also critical they get a very balanced and appropriate diet. As mentioned before, it’s not just good enough if the child picks at all the things they like and leaves the vegetables on the plate. Proper nutrition at an early age reinforces solid eating habits later on that contribute widely to development, growth, and overall well-being. Children at every primary meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner) need a source of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Just like adults, no different. Calorie needs vary, but from age 2 to 14 they range around 1000 to 2500 calories with the majority should coming from complex carbohydrates (40-50%), fats (20-30%), and then protein (10-15%). As one grows into their teen years, the protein amount gradually increases to 25%-30% of their calories.
The key is to understand that children should have a healthy relationship with food. As a parent you want to provide balance, making sure they get the right foods at the right times. But you have to understand they will NOT starve themselves, so there is no need to push. They will develop appropriately and will grow to their potential IF you make sure they have access to the right foods. Keeping healthy foods around, making sure they get a variety in their diet, and focusing on healthy fats and complex carbohydrates…within an emphasis on fruits and vegetables is critical from ages 0-14, this sets the stage for the rest of their life!
Until next week,
Best Wishes for Ultimate Health and Majestic Dreams!
Helping YOU Live Younger, Longer!
“Resolve Today to Make the Best Use of Tomorrow”
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