Body builders calculate their nutrient needs, but how many parents know what their children require to grow healthy bodies? Your kids may enjoy counting up their nutritional score to see if they reach health goals, and this may help them make informed choices for the rest of their lives.
Every process in the body requires protein that has been broken down into amino acids and even tinier particles called peptides. Protein sources include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products like cheese and milk, nuts and seeds. Some beans and legumes have protein, but these are not adequate for humans on their own, and they must be twinned up with other proteins to be complete enough. So, beans and rice make a more complete protein.
Soy is not recommended for kids because soy has compounds that cause estrogen-like effects. This may cause early puberty and too much estrogen for male characteristics. Puberty, or the onset of menstruation and development from children’s bodies to adult bodies, used to occur from age 16-18 in Victorian times. Now kids as young as 8 are experiencing puberty and our modern lifestyle and foods are causing this shift. Fluoride is another cause of early puberty because of its effect on the pineal gland, which monitors the onset of puberty. So, consider this when you buy toothpaste for your kids. I raised my kids on non-fluoride toothpaste, but gave them specific nutrients for healthy teeth, and they had zero cavities growing up. Tooth health is built from the inside, because teeth are alive.
For a graph of how much protein your child needs at every age see here. http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/your_childs_protein_needs.php
Kids also need healthy fats from butter, unrefined oils like coconut and olive, nuts and whole dairy products. I always suggest buying organic dairy and don’t buy low fat or skim products because they are more processed. You can make a healthy treat by mixing organic butter, peanut or almond butter, and raw coconut oil together. Use equal parts of each and mash together to form a thick oily paste. Add some sea salt and stevia, xylitol or raw honey to taste. Put in a small bowl or press into a small pan and let set in refrigerator until firm. Cut off small pieces and enjoy for a healthy sweet treat that offers the right fats for anyone to enjoy. Good fats can reduce sugar cravings and this is a treat you can offer anytime, even at bedtime.
Introduce vegetables young and fix them a variety of ways so your child can learn about the different tastes and textures. Make healthy dips to serve with raw veggies. Help your kids to “eat their carbs green” to avoid the trap of grain-based snacks that offer lots of calories and little nutrition, as well as being addicting. Let your child cook with you and let them get creative.
I think that minerals are not rated highly enough as a vital nutrient for kids. We all talk about vitamins, which are necessary for various body functions. But minerals are vital as the actual building blocks of the cells. Mineral deficiency is also a cancer risk. Potassium, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, as well as trace minerals like copper, iodine, iron, chromium and selenium are vital. Manganese helps ligaments (which act as bands to connect bones) so if your child plays sports, manganese can help them avoid injury. For more on minerals see www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/treace-minerals-what-they-are-and-their-importance.html#b
Really talk to your kids about nutrients and help them to understand the liabilities of junk foods and sugar and the importance of nutrition to help their bodies grow and function. I find that kids are fascinated by books on the body with lots of pictures to help them see what is inside. There are some movies that can help. For older kids I like this one from National Geographic http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/101-videos/human-body-sci
I found that some of the movies that try to teach kids start out with too many big words without explaining them, which is one of the great challenges concerning the body. The inside parts were named in Latin for research purposes, and is a barrier to understanding how it all works. It also means that most doctors can’t talk to patients because the doctors only know how to speak “Latin medical” and that is missing from everyone else’s standard education.
Osmosis Jones films are another fun choice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1yrB92QTW0
“Kidding Around the Kitchen” offers weekly demos at the Hollywood/Atwater Farmers’ Market on Sundays, and will do birthday parties and cooking classes with different themes. If you have a budding chef, you might even be able to delegate some family meals!
On a site called Red Tricycle tri.com/los-angeles/kid-friendly-farms-around-los-angeles/# there is a list of farms that welcome kids. Helping kids understand that food does not come packaged from the market will help them become more informed consumers. There are big issues with genetically modified foods and poisonous pesticides that are already impacting kids’ health. Seeing where food comes from may enhance their understanding of the need for real, whole foods.
For eating out, here is a site that has healthy options to fast food dining in LA. www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/15/best-healthy-fast-food-al_n_783824.html
I see many older people in their 80’s and 90’s who are in good shape because they grew up on healthy, complete foods. My concern for kids today is that those whole foods are disappearing from the American diet and there will be long-term health consequences. My own kids considered me a food-Nazi when they were growing up, but they are healthy today and voluntarily take lots of supplements now that they have seen for themselves how they feel when they don’t eat well.
Kids are fascinated by muscle testing and I have given demonstrations at several schools to help kids see how their bodies respond to whole foods vs. sugar and junk. Let me know if you have any questions about kids and health.