Every few months I receive a pamphlet from the state department of health regarding the development and the nutritional needs of my child. Usually, this is inline with the Standard American Diet advocating for grains and dairy be consumed. I find it interesting (in a are they really saying this way) that dairy, specifically whole milk, is recommended as a necessary source of protein. The latest information for a toddler’s nutrition actually contained some information worth sharing and quite helpful for someone feeding a toddler or themselves for that matter. Here are the highlights and my adaptation for how they work with a Paleo Family.
There are over 300 fruits and vegetables, combine that with different cooking methods (braising, roasting, steaming, grilling, etc) and you could have years of variations among the way you eat produce. This also gives children a chance to explore different textures and multiple times to try a food that maybe they didn’t like the first time (or the 15th).
Kids eat more on some days than others. It is really a beautiful thing, that they are so in tune with their bodies they know when to eat and when not to eat. Whereas, most adults eat from boredom or out of routine. Our ancestors ate when they were hungry and when food was available. They most likely fasted for hours or days. Offer you child something to eat and if they chose not to eat, take a deep breath and move on. They will not starve.
Over the course of a week, your child should eat a variety of foods. Some days it seems like they are only eating one food or one food group. Instead of evaluating what goes into their mouths on a daily basis, look over a longer time period and see how if offered a variety of foods their total diet is more balanced.
Children are eating enough food when they grow and have energy. One of the main concerns I have heard from parents is if their child is eating enough. If nutrient dense (aka the stuff with fat, protein and naturally occurring vitamins) foods are offered, kids have the building blocks to make new cells and fuel their bodies throughout the day. When the majority of a child’s diet is from cookies, crackers, chips, cereal or other foods from a package, they might fill the child up, but gram for gram they will not give them the same necessary nutrients. Kids have small stomachs, they are better off with the nutrient dense food, than the empty foods that just take up good real estate inside of their bellies.