Good nutrition early in life lays the foundation for a child’s optimal growth and development. Making sure that your child obtains a healthy diet will help provide the nourishment that he needs. A healthy diet is about aiming for moderation, balance and variety.
Why is a varied diet important?
The answer is quite simple – no one food supplies all the nutrients that the body requires. Diet diversity is well recognised as a key element of high quality diets, as it helps to ensure nutritional adequacy. When your child eats a variety of different foods, it increases the likelihood of obtaining various types of nutrients which are important for their growth and development. Research has found that there is a strong relationship between dietary diversity and indicators of a child’s growth, i.e. weight-for-age and height-for-age measurements.
It is worth reiterating that diet diversity involves the intake of foods from the different food groups and also within each food group. Your child’s diet may not be as varied as you think if he consumes foods from the different food groups, but only goes for a particular food within each group; or if he eats seemingly many different foods, but they only come from one or two food groups.
Picky eating – a risk factor for the lack of diet diversity
Many studies have shown that picky eaters have less variety in their diets than non-picky eaters. Is your child a picky eater? Research by the National University Hospital found that 1 in 2 parents here identified their children as picky eaters, and picky eating was first noticed as early as one year old.
Furthermore, a recent survey conducted locally revealed that the diets of most 3-year-old children are not balanced.
Supporting your child’s journey towards eating well
If your child is a picky eater, mealtimes can often feel like a battleground. Some ways to slowly get your child to eat foods out of his comfort zone include:
As you work on ensuring your child consumes a balanced and varied diet, consider PediaSure® as a supplement to your child’s daily diet to help fill nutritional gaps, especially if you are worried about his growth. PediaSure® is specially formulated for children aged 1 to 10 years old, providing complete and balanced nutrition. New research has shown that the intake of PediaSure® improved nutritional adequacy and did not replace the intake of foods from the regular diet. In fact, a positive impact on dietary diversity was observed – more children were reported to have consumed foods from key food groups e.g. meat and fish, as well as fruit and vegetables.
Consult your healthcare professional if you have concerns about your child’s growth and development, nutritional status or dietary habits.*Children under the age of 2 years grow rapidly so food higher in fat will help meet their energy needs. Low fat food or diets are not suitable for them at this age.