children and food

Expand your child's diet to promote growth and development

Picky eating habits in children are more common than you might think, but they don't have to be an obstacle.

As parents, it is natural to be concerned about the growth and development of your children. Particularly in recent months, many parents have had new challenges to solve, such as the immune health of their daughters and sons. This is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes related to personal and social habits.

According to Dr. Antonio Rojo, Medical Director at Abbott, a healthy diet can support health, growth, and immune development. However, for many parents it can be a challenge to find nutritious and attractive foods for their little ones, which in turn are varied and can help to obtain the benefits mentioned.

Parents face common challenges

If there are little ones in the home who are selective in their diet, don't worry, you are not alone. Many parents want their sons and daughters to be willing to try new foods and at times they may feel that they are pickier than other children of the same age.

In addition, one of the biggest challenges parents can face when it comes to nutrition is getting kids to eat vegetables, as well as other healthy foods like beans, peas, and shellfish.

Concerns about empty calories

In addition to wanting their children to eat more nutritious foods, many parents would also like them to eat fewer unhealthy foods, especially sweets that often provide a lot of empty calories or few nutritional benefits.

So it's no wonder parents like to know what nutrients their family's food includes. Many parents regularly read food labels and ingredient lists.

A place for specialty nutrition and multivitamin products

Parents want to believe that their children's diet adequately supports their child's health, growth, and immune development. However, the reality is that many children's diets are far from perfect. According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey (ENSANUT), in Mexico, the percentage of children between 5 and 11 years old who eat fruits is 43.5 percent, while those who consume vegetables is only 22 percent.[1] Perhaps that is why many parents give their children a specialized nutrition product to fill in these nutritional gaps.

Dietary recommendations for children

If you are not sure what a child should or should not eat for optimal health, it is recommended that you speak with a nutritionist or your pediatrician and seek guidance on how to offer a balanced and nutritious diet to your child.

Dr. Antonio Rojo indicates that especially for children, it is important to include:

  • Colorful food and vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, squash, black beans, and cauliflower.
  • Fresh fruit, frozen or canned (ideally in its complete form with no added sugar).
  • Grain such as bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, and ready-to-eat cereals (half should be whole grains).
  • Low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese or fat-free or soy drinks and yogurt fortified.
  • Lean protein such as beef, skinless chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and nut cream.
  • Healthy fats of vegetable oils, avocados and fatty fish.

Dr. Rojo adds that because children's bodies are growing it requires a lot of nutrition, so there is not much room for:

  • Refined sugars: as fizzy sugary drinks, cookies, candy and ice cream. Ideally, added sugars should provide no more than 10% of a child's daily calories[2].
  • Saturated fats They can raise cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease throughout life. Saturated fat is found in whole milk, butter, cream, full-fat cheese, coconut oil, hamburgers, and fatty cuts of meat. Try to limit it to 10% of calories or less.
  • El sodium it can raise blood pressure. Although sodium comes from the saltMost of the sodium in children's diets comes from processed foods, fast food, and takeout, not from the salt shaker. Like adults, children should consume a maximum of 2300 milligrams per day.

Focusing on a healthy diet that can support your child's health, growth, and immune development is more important than ever. If selective feeding prevents your little one from eating a balanced diet, a specialized nutrition product may also help.

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[1] National Health and Nutrition Survey 2018. Ministry of Health.

[2] This article was adapted from a story originally created based on the results of a US survey by the International Food Information Council.

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