As a Mom of two boys, this question seems to go through my mind exactly three times a day, breakfast, lunch and supper time. I could be an anxious mom except that I am asked this question more times than I can count. As Moms we want to do the best for our children in everyway possible and nutrition is no different.
This question is rather loaded because if we had to look at each meal our children eat, their diets would probably never be nutritionally complete, well certainly not in my house. So, we need to look at the whole picture, take a look at a few days or a week and ask yourself, is my child eating from the three main food groups, ie. Protein, carbohydrate and fruits and vegetables?
Each of the main food groups offer the body a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as the fuel it needs to build and repair the body. If your children are eating a variety from each of the main food groups on a regular basis then they should be getting everything they can from their diet. However, this is very simplified and our little children are not normally so obliging? that would make our life too easy wouldn’t it?
Protein offers the body the building it needs to repair and grow, especially in children who grow so much in their early years. Protein can come from many sources and it is quite important that theres a variety in your children’s diet in order to get all the nutrients that they need. Protein can come from chicken, red meat, pork, fish, beans and legumes. Each of these types of protein have vitamins and minerals that the body needs to grow and develop so its quite important to offer each type as regularly as possible.
Carbohydrates or starchy food fuel the body and the brain. Without them we feel sluggish and the body’s cells do not have the energy they need to do work. There are many types of carbohydrates from pasta and potatoes to corn, rice, cous cous, quinoa, bulgar wheat to name a few. Again, having a variety not only keeps the family interested but also supplies the body with various nutrients. Can you see the pattern here (variety)?
Lastly but probably equally important is fruit and vegetables- here there are far too many to list but the basic rule is that 5 fruit and veg are eaten daily. This may seem like a tall order but if this is very possible if spread out throughout the day. Fruit and vegetables provide many vitamins. Back in the 18 00’s sailors were very susceptible to vitamin c deficiency (scurvy as it was called) due to the lack of fruits and vegetables the ate. As soon as these were introduced back into their diets all symptoms of scurvy would disappear. Scurvy is not as common as it was back int the 1800’s in sailors who did not have adequate supply of fruits and vegetables but fruits and vegetables are equally as important.
So to sum up, is your child getting enough from their diet? If so, well done, you are doing everything you can to provide a healthy and nutritious food to your children each day. If not, it may be helpful to look at what food groups your child or children are missing out on and the reasons why. Once this has been established you can decide on ways to introduce these to your children. Moms can also look into supplementing their children’s diets specifically in nutrients they feel are necessary. So for instance if you child never eats red meat its might be worth looking into other sources of iron in various food for your child and then consider a supplement for your child until your child is able to eat a good amount of red meat or a food alterative.
Is my child missing any of these food groups completely? Is there anything which our family excludes from their diet.