Is nutrition for children different from nutrition for adults? This is a good question that seems to come up often. The fact is, nutrition for children and adults is similar. We all need the same nutrients for optimal health but in different amounts depending on our age.
Generally children require smaller amounts of food than adults. Use Health Canada’s Eat Well Plate to build as a guide and make it a habit to eat a variety of healthy foods each day to ensure children get the nutrients needed to grow, move and shine.
Eating a variety of healthy foods include:
- Eating lots of vegetables and fruits
These provide nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre which are needed for optimal nutrition. Choose a wide variety including leafy greens, carrots, mangos, strawberries, peaches and kiwi. As Health Canada recommends, fill half your child’s plate with vegetables and fruit to ensure they are getting a healthy diet.
- Whole grain foods
Whole grain foods provide nutrients that give your children energy, as well as vitamins, minerals and fibre. They are healthier choices than refined foods. Some examples include whole grain bread, pasta and oatmeal. Have you and your family tried farro, freekah, amaranth and buckwheat?
- Protein foods that come mainly from plant sources
This is important because plant-based protein foods provide less saturated fat and more fibre than other protein foods which can be beneficial for your family’s overall health. Children do not need to eat large amounts of protein, so filling one quarter of their plate with protein foods provides them with the nutrients they need.
Some examples of protein foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat including wild game, lower fat milk, lower fat yogurts, lower fat kefir, and cheeses lower in fat and sodium. These provide children with essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
Best drink for kids:
It’s simple – water. Although water does not contain nutrients, it is vital for children’s health. Encourage your kids to drink water to quench their thirst and for hydration instead of reaching for sugary drinks.
So keep encouraging your children to eat a variety of healthy foods every day to ensure they get the nutrients they need. By using the Eat Well Plate as your guide, you’re increasing their awareness of healthy foods and healthy eating habits that will last them a lifetime.
For more information go to: Canada’s Food Guide