Balanced Nutrition for Children
Nutrition is important at any age. At a young age, children start to develop their eating habits and establish their likes and dislikes in the various foods that they are introduced to. Child obesity is an issue that continues to grow each day and part of the cause stems from the foods that we provide children to consume. Within the year 2015-2016, the the obesity rate amongst children in the United States, within the range of 2-19 years of age was 18.5% (CDC, 2019). Because nutrition is something that we can control, we can help them set the foundation to eat a balanced diet by presenting them with various types of foods. By starting them at a young age, they are able to grow up with the knowledge and later apply it to their daily lives. To get a balanced diet, the key is to incorporate five of the different food groups: dairy, fruits, grains, protein, and vegetables, into our meals (Eat for Health, n.d).
Dairy products are items made from cow’s milk, like cheese and yogurt. It is a rich source of calcium and vitamins for our body. With dairy products many caution the consumption because they are lactose intolerant, meaning their body is unable to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products. Alternative dairy products can come from different animals, nuts, oats and even rice.
Examples of Dairy Products:
Fruits, similar to vegetables, can come from plants or trees. It is able to provide us with many nutrients. This can also be consumed in a variety of ways, like raw, dried, pureed, or juiced.
Examples of Fruit Products:
Grains are the wheat or cereal crops that can be used as fuel. We categorize them into two groups known as the whole grains and the refined grains. Whole grains are more nutrient dense due to the usage of the entire grain kernel, which includes the bran and germ that is removed in refined grains. With the whole grain kernel, it is able to be used as a rich source of fiber, iron, and vitamins.
Examples of Grain Products:
Proteins typically come from animal products because they contain most, if not all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to function. Animal products include chicken, beef, pork, and seafood. Plant-based protein can also be consumed as protein like lentils, tofu, and tempeh.
Examples of Protein Products:
Vegetables are typically plants or part of a plant that can be consumed and used as fuel. They can be eaten raw, baked, boiled, plain, or with a dip. Under that umbrella encompasses the different subcategories, such as dark leafy greens, starchy vegetables, and red/orange, beans and peas, and the remaining vegetables under the others category. This food group is able to provide many macronutrients and micronutrients.
Examples of Protein Products:
The foods that are consumed is important, but the proportion and serving that is consumed is also just as important. We want our bodies to have enough of each nutrient and avoid being deficient in a nutrient, as well as being in excess of a nutrient. To the left is a general guide to serving sizes with each food group. With a balanced diet, however, it really depends on each individual and what their body needs.
Spinach & Banana Pancakes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Childhood nutrition facts. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/facts.htm.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Childhood obesity facts. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html.
Children's Bureau. (n.d) Importance of good nutrition for young children. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://www.all4kids.org/2018/02/05/importance-good-nutrition-young-children/.
Eat for Health. (n.d). The Five Food Groups. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups.
Health and Social Services. (n.d). Eating advice for school-aged children (K-12). Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://www.hss.gov.nt.ca/en/services/food-and-nutrition/eating-advice-school-aged-children.
Hopkins, L. C., & Gunther, C. (2015). A Historical Review of Changes in Nutrition Standards of USDA Child meal programs relative to research findings on the nutritional adequacy of program meals and the diet and nutritional health of participants: Implications for future research and the summer food service program. Nutrients, 7(12), 10145–10167. doi:10.3390/nu7125523.
Mayo Clinic. (2017). Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/nutrition-for-kids/art-20049335.
Micha, R., Karageorgou, D., Bakogianni, I., Trichia, E., Whitsel, L. P., Story, M.,…Mozaffarian, D. (2018). Effectiveness of school food environment policies on children's dietary behaviors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 13(3), e0194555. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194555.
Overweight & Obesity Statistics. (2017). Retrieved on November 12, 2019 at
USDA. (n.d). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, Eighth Edition. Retrieved on November 06, 2019 at https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
Yisak, H., Gobena, T. & Mesfin, F. (2015) Prevalence and risk factors for under nutrition among children under five at Haramaya district, Eastern Ethiopia. BMC Pediatr 15, 212, doi:10.1186/s12887-015-0535-0.
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