More than 95% of all modern diseases are caused by wrong food choice, chemicals in foods, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise. Understanding health and nutrition can be tricky because children may look healthy but suffer from severe deficiency. How can you judge the health of your child? How can you as a mother ensure that the child is getting the essential nutrients from food every day?
Let’s take a look at some key nutrition requirements for a toddler aged 1 to 3 years:
Foods that provide energy
A toddler is a very busy person. He/she has not only learnt to walk, run and climb but also is curious about everything. One can describe toddlers as a bundle of energy and it can be difficult to sometimes keep up with them. They are capable of eating independently and like to try out a variety of foods. If you are still breast feeding your toddler, you have to continue to eat right to avoid chemicals passing on to your child. Their stomachs are much smaller as compared to an adult that is why they need to eat more often. At this stage, give them whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, rye, millet and pulses, beans, and fruits like bananas, apples and oranges. Starchy foods like potatoes, bread, cereals, pasta release energy. Sweet potatoes and honey are great additions.
Get back to nature
Why do certain cultures prefer to eat certain foods? Why do the Italians eat pasta or why did the Incas eat quinoa? The answer is simple. People for long ate what they found in nature or could grow as crops. Certain soil and weather conditions are appropriate for growing certain crop and over time the generation learnt to tolerate the food which their ancestors ate. By drastically changing our staple diet, we are putting our body and that of our children at a great risk. It’s nice to try something new as long as it suits the conditions in which we live. Some foods are classified hot or cold for the body so serve your child food that is compatible. Use of plant products, herbs are beneficial and once can source them from the local plant nursery and check with your paediatrician if you plan to introduce them in your toddler’s diet.
Simple home-made food
The appeal of every great food often lies in its simplicity and use of natural ingredients that grow around us. The regular rice, lentils or bread that we make at home actually pack in lot of nutrition by combining protein with carbs. Add a dose of vegetables and you will increase its nutritional value. Most of the food that we find in the supermarkets didn’t exist in the last several decades and they are engineered. Most of them contain a high level of sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives which is dangerous in the long run.
Green leafy vegetables, beans, fish, meat, and fruits are rich sources of vitamins, just to name a few. The general idea is have a platter with mixed colors. Carrots, beans, beetroots together provide a boost to the daily meal. However, mixed colors in their meal confuse and irritate some toddlers and they prefer one type of food at a time. Then, what you can do is to serve a variety of food during the day. The idea is to get their daily requirement spread through different meals starting with a power breakfast for a long day.
Milk, dried fruits and nuts
Calcium is essential for the healthy growth of bones and 2 glasses of milk every day is a minimum requirement for a toddler. In addition, cheese, sesame seeds can also be served. Squash and pumpkin seeds are high in iron and so are pine nuts, cashew, hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts. Dates are extremely beneficial. Dark leafy veggies, whole grains, tofu, and chocolate also contain iron. Clams, mussels, oysters and shrimp are the top non-vegetarian sources of iron followed by pork, chicken and lamb.
Keep in mind not to rely on one type of food all the time, serve most categories of food in moderate portions to address all the nutritional requirements of a toddler. Healthy eating practices at this stage will remain for life and you as a parent will not need to coax your little one to eat right if you follow them at home yourself.