Optimal Nutrition for Childhood Growth

Updated: Feb 22, 2018

Good nutrition sets the basis for healthy eating habits into adulthood and lowering incidence of disease.


Childhood


Childhood nutrition due to rapid growth during infancy and early adolescence has a lifelong impact on the health of organs, body functions, development, growth and productivity of each child. Habits created early in life (whether healthy or unhealthy) tend to be followed through to adulthood and all too often we are seeing children suffer many avoidable health concerns simply by what is provided to them through what they eat.


Statistics show that if diet is inadequate during these periods there may be growth, learning, mental and social shortcomings. These may include:


· Poor growth

· Poor muscle and bone development

· Lowered immunity

· Reduced cognitive function

· Learning difficulties

· Social adversities


Malnutrition is typified by wasting, chronic infections, metabolic disturbances, stunted growth and organ atrophy. Children with malnutrition may also be overweight or obese if their diet consists of high calorific foods with little to no nutritional value. These nutritional imbalances may have profound consequences later in life and may include:


· Metabolic disorders

· Cardiovascular disease

· Neurological conditions

· Renal and hepatic ailments

· Hormonal dysfunction

· Joint issues

· Dental conditions


Internationally the recommended assessment for examining if nutritional requirements are being met is through physical examination and anthropometric measurements such as weight and height in correlation to age and gender.


As more and more children are presenting earlier with health concerns, it is important to check the eating habits and health of your child to avoid the onset of any preventable illnesses.



Nutritional Guidance


To obtain necessary nutrients a wide variety of preferably organic foods low in processed sugar, trans fats, salt, artificial colours and flavours is suggested. Think about that biscuit or packet of chips that so often gets put into lunchboxes - there really is no 'quality' nutrition in such foods. Foods to include are vegetables and fruits, full fat dairy, essential fats, wholegrain/nuts/seeds, lean meat, oily fish, eggs and water for hydration. (Avoid known allergens).


Fats – RDI (Recommended Daily Intake): 40-125 mg/day. Essential fatty acids (oily fish, flax seed, nuts/seeds, wholegrain, avocados) to help with synaptic membrane synthesis, neural transmission and nerve impulses.


Protein – RDI: 14-40 g/day. (Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts/seeds, dairy) required for building, repair and functioning of cells in the body and necessary for chemical pathways, enzymatic and hormonal reactions.


Carbohydrates – No RDI. (Fruit, vegetables, wholegrain, legumes, unrefined cereals, nuts/seeds). Main energy source for cells, provide nutrients for beneficial bacteria in the gut and necessary for metabolic pathways such as glycolysis.


Healthy Eating Plan:


Getting kids involved in the kitchen with meal preparation and guiding them towards healthier food choices is a great way to develop habits that they can carry on through their lives. If poor food choices are not a staple in the pantry or fridge, children are less likely to consume these foods. Leave these for a rare occasion, you'll often find once kids have changed their palate to healthier foods (which does take time and persistence) they will seek these out over poorer nutritional foods.


Simple options:


Breakfast: 1-2 scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms and avocado. Glass of milk/water.


Lunch: Wholegrain/seed wrap with flaked salmon/cooked free range chicken, grated cheese, carrot, beetroot, sprouts, tahini and lettuce. Glass of milk/water.


Dinner: Baked sweet potato with beef/chicken mince, black beans, capsicum, corn, tomato, zucchini and cottage cheese. Glass of milk/water.


Snack ideas: Fruit, vegetable sticks with homemade salsa/hummus, nuts/seeds, unsweetened, natural Greek yoghurt with stewed fruit/berries, unsalted popcorn.




Quick Recipe - Healthy chicken nuggets:


Ingredients:

2 skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sizes

2 eggs mixed with ½ c milk

1 cup almond meal/ground LSA (linseed/sunflower/almond) mixed with 1 Tablespoon mixed fresh/dry herbs.


Method:

1. Dip chicken bits into egg/milk mix then into almond meal mix. Shake of excess.

2. Bake on a tray in hot oven till cooked and crispy. Serve with vegetables/salad.

NB; (Avoid if known allergy to eggs/dairy/nuts)


Remember, healthy kids are happy kids!


Enjoy food x



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