What’s the most important nutrient for a growing 5 year old? And does this change and he gets older?
Unfortunately there’s no “quick-fix” answer to this question. A growing child needs good nutrition from a variety of whole foods, providing energy, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. This means eating a balanced diet of not just one, but a combination of all of the following:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, popcorn (not in a microwavable bag)),
- Lean proteins (fish, chicken, legumes, eggs)
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts–if no allergies,–and omega-3 fatty acids from salmon, flax and hemp)
- Low-fat dairy for protein, calcium and vitamin D (yogurt, milk, cheese) or dairy alternatives (soy, rice, almond, coconut)
Singling out nutrients is not a good practice, especially for children. It’s the combination of nutrients in their natural state that provides the best nourishment for the body. Focusing on just one nutrient would deprive the body of the benefits of the others. Instead, try to compose a well-rounded diet that will introduce your son to new foods and flavors, and involve him in choosing and cooking meals whenever possible!
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, cohost, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.
What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy? Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected]. Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.