Kids need a variety of nutrients and vitamins in their regular diet to help them grow properly and get healthy mind and body. Even if children are eating home cooked healthy meals, there is a good chance that kids are missing out on some essential nutrients.
If you are a concerned parent, read on to find out how to provide healthy diet for your young athlete. This article has diet recommendations based on excerpts from articles and talks with health care and nutritional experts, although you might want to consult your paediatrician or dietician or even the team coach before you make any change in your child’s diet just to be sure you are doing the right thing.
Experts believe that growing children, especially athletes, usually need nutritional supplements, preferably natural, to complete their body’s nutrition and vitamin requirement.
Here are some food items that should be a part of your child’s regular diet:
- Milk (preferably nonfat skim milk as it’s an excellent source of energy, protein, calcium, vitamins like vitamin D, Vitamin B, nutrients like iodine, phosphorous etc. Nonfat skim milk helps children achieve proper growth by helping strengthen bones, teeth and muscles.
- Yogurt is a natural source of good bacteria or probiotic bacteria that helps regulate the digestive system, effectively controlling common digestive problems like gas, acidity, stomach bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables as they are the best natural source of a variety of vitamins, fibre, antioxidants, phytonutrients etc. Different fruits and vegetables provide different nutrients so it’s recommended that you serve a different fruit everyday or make a bowl of fresh fruit salad or parboiled/fresh vegetable salad.
- Non vegetarian food like meat, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs are an excellent source of protein, iron and other nutritional essentials like B Complex vitamins especially B12, which boosts immunity.
- Grains and cereals are also packed with essential nutrition along with fibre, carbohydrates, minerals and antioxidants. research has proven that consuming whole grains and cereals on a regular basis reduces the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, type II diabetes, obesity etc. it also helps the body’s immune system become stronger.
Whole grains are packed with nutrients, including protein, fibre, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals (iron, zinc, copper, and magnesium). A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
However if your child is a poor eater or a picky eater, you would need to add food supplements to their diet. There are vitamin supplements and health drinks available in the market that can be added to the child’s regular diet, however, it is always recommended to consult a professional health care expert as excess of some minerals can also be bad for the body.
Here are some unhealthy habits you must keep a check on:
- Avoid fast food, convenience food, processed food all types of junk food. Practically, children won't give up on it totally, but keep a close check on the frequency of consumption of such food.
- Avoid soda, encourage your child to take water instead. Soda not only replaces water’s urge but also depletes essential minerals and vitamins fro the body.
- Do not give your child vitamin supplements unless prescribed by a practicing medical professional. Body eventually looses the tendency to create these vitamins naturally if the synthetic version is readily available.
- Multi-vitamin supplements or health drinks or probiotic drinks are good, but you must consult an expert just in case there is a specific requirement for your child.