January 3, 2013

Child Care

Eat, drink, and be healthy

If you want your child to eat healthily, you need to serve her a wide variety of nutritious foods for energy, growth, and development. This means giving processed and junk foods a wide berth – but it doesn't mean not being flexible. Food isn't worth arguing over, and if your child insists on eating curly cheesy crisps, that’s fine – as long as they don’t form her staple diet. If most of the food your child eats is nutritious, you’ll be keeping her in tip-top condition. Try doing the following to make sure that she eats well:

Give your child at least five helpings of fruit and vegetables a day – fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or juiced. You’re probably already aware of this important point, but there’s no harm in stressing it again. Fruits and vegetables contain the crucial nutrients needed to maintain a healthy digestive system, create new body tissue, fight infections, and a lot more. Try to offer your child at least one orange and one green fruit or vegetable every day, as they are known to be particularly beneficial and may help to prevent cancer and other serious diseases. Fruit or vegetable juice only makes up one of her daily portions of fruit and vegetables, no matter how much she drinks. That’s because other goodies in the flesh are not included in juice, and digesting whole fruit and vegetables benefits her system.

Make sure that your child eats breakfast. Studies show that if your child eats breakfast, she’s far less likely to become obese in later life. Skipping breakfast can cause blood-sugar problems and make your child’s metabolism sluggish, which is bad for the digestive system. Most experts say that breakfast’s the most important meal of the day: Breakfast eaters are less likely to contract diabetes or have high cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for heart disease.

Maintain your own healthy diet. You’re important too! Eating healthy food yourself is one of the best ways of getting your child into good habits, so make sure that you tuck in to your greens. Studies also show that children who have regular family mealtimes are more likely to have healthier diets than those who don’t. Snacking in front of the TV is a definite no-no.

Offer as much unprocessed food as possible, and get into the habit of reading labels on the foods you serve. Check for things such as hidden fats, sugars, additives, and salt. Foods with lots of preservatives and added flavourings are often deficient in essential nutrients and high in unhealthy (and unnecessary) chemicals. Salt’s a particular danger – it can cause health problems, including high blood pressure and heart conditions. And sugar (and sugar substitutes), additives, and coloring's have been linked with everything from behavioral problems to physical ailments.

Get your child to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drinking enough fluids is vital. Water’s the best drink by far – try to keep sugary drinks and juices to a minimum, and don’t serve them at all between meals because they are lethal to tiny teeth. The British medical profession has been telling us for many years that most children aren't drinking enough. Dehydration leads to many short-term and long-term health problems: Lack of water can cause headaches, constipation, and poor concentration, to name but a few things. A good way to tell whether your child’s dehydrated is to check the color of her urine. Her urine should be a pale straw color  If it’s dark yellow, she may well be dehydrated. A sunken fontanelle (the soft spot on a baby’s head) can also indicate dehydration.

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