Learn What to Include on Your Child’s Plate
When thinking what she wants for her child the most, the first thing that comes to any mother’s mind is Health. Yes, we all want our children to be successful, well-educated, fortunate, happy, but what we want the most is for them to be healthy. Because no child, or adult for that matter can function well with poor health. And the right nutrition is the main prerequisite to good health.
That is why the Nutrition section of my blog is the most important one. Rest assured, all that you find in this section is well researched, is based on official publications of World Health Organization (WHO), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), USDA and is tried out on my own child.
It is our responsibility as parents to start our children’s life with healthy dietary practices. And that should be done from the first day of their life. Yes, you got me right! From the very first day! WHO and AAP recommend breastfeeding exclusively or if breastfeeding is not possible giving only formula to babies younger than 6 months; NOTHING else: no water, juice, or any type of food.
We all know that unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity can lead to serious health problems; diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are some of the health conditions caused by malnutrition.
But What is a Healthy Diet?
Many of you have heard about the Food Pyramid, a nutrition guide published by the US Department of Agriculture, that became a household item in the United States in the 1960s and demonstrated how much of each food group to eat as part of a healthy diet.
Today we have a much simpler image at hand, MyPlate is the USDA’s new healthy eating program that replaced MyPyramid in 2011. The message behind MyPlate is that all the food we eat on a plate should be divided into 4 main categories, plus a serving of dairy on the side. There is a big variety of foods in each food category, and I will go over each one of those in my future posts.
But for now, when thinking what to feed your toddler (or even better if you are ready to switch the whole family to a healtier diet), make sure that half of his everyday meal is fruits and vegetables alongside with lean proteins, whole grains, and dairy. This will provide him with the nutrition he needs to stay healthy and thrive.
Eating Well Means Eating a Variety of Foods
Introducing your child to a variety of foods from early age is crucial for a number of reasons:
- It will help put them on a well-balanced diet later on.
- Variety in food is the key to good health. No single food contains all the nutrients that our bodies need. And even within a food group, different foods provide different nutrients.
- It is between ages 1 and 3 that your toddler would be willing to try new flavors, so here is the chance to get creative in your cooking. After 3 his taste will be pretty much set so changing his dietary preferences might become a big struggle for both you and your child.
Commercial Baby Food vs Homemade
I realize that it is so much easier to start your baby on commercial baby food. Yes, there is a big variety of organic, well balanced, vitamins rich baby food in stores nowadays. However, the food that you make at home from fresh whole vegetables and fruits is superior to any jarred commercial equivalent. And making homemade baby food is not as difficult and time-consuming as you might think. With a little planning and advance preparation, you can have your freezer full of your own baby food jars with only wholesome ingredients, that haven’t been processed, contain no additives or fillers.
Please don’t get me wrong! I am all for making a mom’s life easier. However, it is to the point of being painful to see a mother feeding her 2-years-old toddler only commercial food. How would you expect him to become a good eater if all he is used to is flavorless mixes of baby purees? It only requires some extra effort from you but things will pay off dramatically when you eventually have an adventurous eater who is open to trying new foods and flavors.
This all might seem a little overwhelming to you, but please don’t be. I am here to help you shift to healthier food and beverage choices by providing all the needed information within different posts to this Section. And although there is much more to a healthy diet than the simple MyPlate image, it is a good starting point to get an idea of where we should all be heading in our everyday food preferences.
Do you follow any dietary guidelines when feeding your child? Please let me know in the comments.