Here are some tips to help your kids get all the essential nutrients they need – especially if you have a picky eater.
Get to know important nutrients
The first tip is to familiarise yourself with important nutrients so you’re aware of what your kids might be missing out on.
It’s especially important to pay attention to these ones:
Varying quantities of these nutrients are present in different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, dairy, meat products, and meat alternatives. If your child eats a wide variety of whole foods and a rainbow of colours from fruits and vegetables, their diet is likely to meet all their nutritional needs.
However, only one in two Kiwi kids eats three or more servings of vegetables per day, the recommended amount from the Ministry of Health. Similarly, just one in two children in New Zealand eats two or more servings of meat, fish, poultry, or eggs per day.
Generally speaking, kids could do with more vegetables for their nutrients, vitamins, and fibre, as well as meat or meat alternatives for iron.
Some kids will eat veggies if they are hidden in foods they love. Here are some ideas to try.
How to sneak in more veggies
How to sneak in more iron-rich foods
Iron is important in any diet, but it’s especially essential during periods of growth – such as throughout childhood and adolescence. If a child is deficient in iron for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to anaemia, which is linked with impaired immune function, fatigue, and some learning effects.
Here are some iron-rich foods your kids might enjoy.
As well as making a point to include plenty of iron-rich foods in your child’s diet, you can also consider supplemental iron such as Ferro-Sachets. Be sure to check with your family doctor beforehand.
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-haem iron (iron found in plants), so it can help to improve iron levels. It also helps to prevent infections and heal wounds, as well as keeping skin, bones, and connective tissue healthy.
The good news is that most kids get plenty of vitamin C, but if your family doctor suspects your child might have a deficiency, there are easy ways to boost those levels.
Seek to add delicious fruits and veggies to their diet such as oranges, kiwifruits, berries, capsicum, and tomatoes. Or use supplements made specifically for children, such as Vitamin C Lipo-Sachets for Kids, which come in a tasty blackcurrant flavour and quickly boost vitamin levels.
A note on vitamin C
When it comes to getting enough nutrients, variety is key. Aim to ‘eat the rainbow’ and include ample iron-rich foods. If your little one has a strong preference for beige foods, supplementation might help picky eaters meet their nutritional needs.
Disclamer: This content is for informational purposes only and should not substitute advice from your healthcare professional. If symptoms persist or you require specialist advice, please consult your healthcare professional.