Dear Son’s food behavior seems to be highly motivated by what Dear Mom ate when she was pregnant. Dear Son does not like those items much that Dear Mom did not eat regularly when Dear Son was being cooked inside the tummy. 🙂 He is currently four. We have been trying to give him varieties of food since he was one. However, we are not focusing much on varieties of food lately. This post is to remind ourselves about the six types of food children would need on a daily basis.
Water is something that we do not keep track of as a daily intake but it is one of the most crucial ones. Water builds the transportation system of the body. It carries nutrients from one part of the body to another. We have observed that Dear Son poops at least once in every 24 hours only if he drinks enough water. 🙂 Water removes waste products from the body.
Along with regular water, other sources of water are soup, watermelon, cucumber, and juicy fruits. It is not essential that we drink filtered or bottled water. Some communities add fluoride in water. Such water is good for children to prevent cavity. Bottled water does not contain fluoride. Filtering the tap water will limit the fluoride intake. This is why some pediatric dentists recommend tap water for children. We are blessed that fluoride is present naturally in El Paso’s water. Therefore, it is better to drink the tap water in El Paso than to drink bottled water or filtered water. 🙂
Calcium, potassium, iron, and sodium are the four most important minerals a child needs. Calcium strengthens bones and teeth. Daily servings of milk, low-fat cheese, and yogurt ensure calcium intake. While Dear Son is fine with milk and cheese, he needs to focus more on the yogurt department.
Potassium helps in maintaining volume of fluids in cells. It also prevents high blood pressure. Bananas, tomatoes, and potatoes are rich sources of potassium.
Body cannot make enough hemoglobin without enough iron. Iron-deficiency causes production of fewer red blood cells than normal. As a results, the cells do not get enough oxygen they need. Iron-deficiency causes fatigue and anemia. It can even delay the development of a child. Beef, pork, chicken, beans, salmon, grains, leafy green vegetables, and eggs are common sources of iron.
We get enough sodium from the salt we use in our food. Sodium helps to maintain a healthy environment for cells. It is better to keep sodium intake lower because excessive of this may increase the blood pressure. When purchasing canned fruits, vegetables, soup, or pasta, it is better to pick the ones that do not have any added sodium or have low-sodium.
Vitamins have different biochemical functions. Vitamin A contributes to the health of eyes and is very important for children. Common sources of Vitamin A are yellow pumpkins, fruits, carrots, orange, leafy vegetables (like Spinach), and squash.
There are many different types of Vitamin B, deficiencies of which may cause beriberi, rash, anemia, and mouth diseases including glossitis. Good sources of B vitamins are oatmeal, meat, fish, vegetables, avocados, brown rice, potatoes, eggs, dairy products, bananas, liver, and tree nuts.
Deficiency of Vitamin C may cause scurvy. Many fruits, vegetables, and liver are rich sources of Vitamin C. Some high vitamin C sources that Dear Son likes are banana, blueberries, broccoli, carrot, cherries, corn, cucumber, green beans, grape, mango, pear, peaches, plums, and watermelon.
Vitamin D-rich sources are fish, eggs, liver, and mushrooms. Vitamin D helps maintain calcium absorption. Other than food sources, Vitamin D can be obtained from the sun.
Vitamin E deficiencies are rare. However, mild haemolytic anaemia may be observed in newborns due to the deficiency of Vitamin E. Seeds, nuts, and vegetables are good sources of Vitamin E.
Vitamin K can be obtained from Leafy green vegetables, liver, and egg yolks. Vitamin K deficiency may cause bleeding diathesis, gum bleeding, problematic blood clotting, and bleeding associated with the digestive system.
It is a good idea to keep a list of food that covers most of the vitamins.
Carbohydrate is essential for producing energy. Brain will not function well without this fuel. 🙂 Bread, tortilla, rice, pasta, oatmeal, and noodles are common sources of carbohydrates. Along with grains, some starchy vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates, for example, peas, corn, and potatoes. Of course, sugar contains carbohydrates but I won’t worry at all if sugar is not consumed.
Sometimes we forget to make sure that the grains are whole grains. Whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, and brown rice are good as fiber-rich carbohydrate intakes. It is good to make sure that half of the grains a child consumes are whole grains. This confirms enough fiber intake to help digestion.
Protein is the main structural component of the cells of our body. Protein helps reconstruction of decaying cells. The food a child eats must have enough protein because a child’s body grows at a much faster rate than a grown-up. Some sources of protein are — chicken, beef, pork, lamb, mutton, and fish. Other than meat or fish, dairy products, beans, and eggs are widely used protein sources.
We prefer low-fat meat as well as low-fat dairy products as protein sources for Dear Son. We give Dear Son 2% milk based on his pediatrician’s recommendation. We give him eggs in scrambled or boiled form. He likes both forms now although he did not want to eat eggs much in his early-toddler age.
Some high-protein sources for vegetarian preference are — tofu, lentils, black beans, lima beans, chickpeas, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seed, spinach, avocado, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Dear Son used to like black bean and lima beans when he was a toddler. Too bad that we did not continue all these vegetarian preferences. We need to get back to giving him good vegetable protein sources.
We generally use canola oil or olive oil as our cooking oil. We prefer cholesterol-free oil for cooking. Fat helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Such vitamins include A, D, E and K. Omega-3 fatty acid-rich food is preferable because they help develop brain and bones in addition to providing energy. Fish, and vegetable oils are two good sources of Omega-3 substances. Avocado, nuts, and seeds are rich sources of fat as well.
We make sure of as little intake of saturated fats as possible. We avoid high-fat meats and full-fat dairy for Dear Son.
Concluding remarks: It is difficult to maintain all varieties of food. The easiest thing to do is to keep a list of food items that covers all six essential nutrients. We can modify that list time-to-time to include seasonal delights. Diversity in food is essential to ensure a child’s healthy diet.