Top tips for a healthy children’s diet
What you feed your child can have a major effect on their health (particularly their digestive health and immunity) and long-term dietary habits.
For example, a sweet-tooth can be acquired at an early age, by eating sweeter and sweeter foods, but processed sugar is a highly toxic food. However, an existing sweet-tooth can be reversed (usually with a little resistance at first), by gradually reducing the level of sweetness in foods and drinks.
Try to avoid giving sweets, sweetened foods, cola and other sweetened drinks to children on a regular basis. Cola drinks are particularly bad because most contain caffeine, an addictive substance that can de-mineralise the body. Similarly, very few breakfast cereals are sugar-free – most processed cereals contain fast-releasing sugars and have added sugar (not to mention artificial additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings).
An ideal nutritious snack for children, packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fibre, is fruit (especially berries), so try to make sure that you always have plenty of fruit on offer so that children can nibble as and when they are peckish.
Another good habit to develop early on is to regularly eat raw vegetables and salad foods, preferably at each meal. The younger this starts, the easier it will be to integrate into the long-term diet. Many vegetables (particularly organic produce) are naturally sweet and will therefore appeal more to a child’s palate. For example, carrots, corn and peas.
It is also worth remembering that children’s systems are very sensitive and react more readily to substances they are exposed to. Allergies start young and so, by paying close attention, you can find out what does and does not suit your child. For instance, many children have adverse reactions to food additives, sugar, dairy products, wheat and other gluten grains. Symptoms may include rashes, eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ache, wind, coughing, frequent sore throats, asthma and respiratory infections.
Optimum nutrition with ‘real food’ will support a child’s digestion, immune system and general health and well-being.