Guidelines for Healthy Eating

Guidelines for Healthy Eating
Posted on 04/12/2018

Article by Karen Eynon, PNP

Feeding our kids, and ourselves, can be frustrating at times. Whether it’s fussy eaters, confusing recommendations, or the decision to purchase organic versus conventional foods. Nutrition is, however, the foundation of a healthy lifestyle. A variety of vitamins and minerals are vital to the healthy development of the brain, immune system, and overall growth and development. Let’s begin with a couple of definitions:

Macronutrients are the type of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates needed for good growth a development. These supply the calories needed for the balance of energy expended through physical activity and growth with the energy (or calories) eaten.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals needed in smaller amounts to normal functioning of the body systems, growth, and metabolism.

Balancing nutrition and ensuring there are adequate macro and micronutrients during the early years of life is important for a person’s health even into adulthood. Introducing healthy eating as early as possible helps children to develop healthy lifestyles that will keep them healthy throughout their entire life. The American Academy of Pediatrics particularly emphasizes the first 2 years of life as important to a child’s overall nervous system development, setting the stage for lifetime wellness, both physically and mentally, and in the prevention of obesity and chronic illness such as diabetes.

The Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has created a toolkit to help make these concepts easier. An easy tool to follow using numbers:
5 - Servings of fruits and vegetables daily (make that a few more veggies than fruits)
4 - BIG glasses of water every day
3 - Servings of something with Calcium (like milk or yogurt)
2 - hours or LESS of screen time (ALL screens)
1 - hour of physical activity every day
0 - Sweetened drinks, like soda, juice, and Gatorade

It is important to remember that calorie needs change as children age as does the need for certain vitamins and minerals. For example, teenage girls need more calcium (up to 1000 mg daily) as well as added Vitamin B complexes and folate.

It is also important to balance the need for calories with how active children are (this goes for all of us as well). The more active a person is the more calories they need to stay healthy. The calories need to be quality calorie, such as getting your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and whole grains while limiting foods such as chips, cookies, white bread, etc. The table below gives an idea about amount of calories needed at various ages.

Focus on encouraging healthy food choices and being physically active every day! This is a family affair and YOU are your child’s best role model!

North Scottsdale Pediatrics

  • Ironwood Office - 9827 N. 95th St. Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 Phone: (480)-860-8488
  • Deer Valley Office - 21807 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85255 Phone: (480)-860-8488

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