Beyond the Nutrition Basics

By, Cindy Baranoski, MS, RDN, LDN

Earlier this month, I provided some introductory nutrition resources and tips for infants to children. Now as we continue to celebrate National Nutrition Month, we will look at the next steps to aid our children’s nutrition needs.

Photo by Nancy Kerner
Photo by Nancy Kerner

Seeking the help of a dietitian can be invaluable in helping to determine so many particulars about nutrition, especially if your child has specific needs. A dietitian can help with determining how much nutrition your child actually needs. Typically based on their age, weight, length or stature, sex, and activity, no two children need the same amount of nutrients.

Calories change with weight gain and length growth. They continue to change over time, and what your child needs today will not be the same in a month. Monitoring growth and diet is helpful, especially when your child is not gaining enough weight, or possibly gaining too much. It’s not necessary to count calories, so tools such as SuperTracker are not always necessary.

Using MyPlate Daily Food Plans are an easy way to ensure children are not over or under eating. When in doubt, asking a dietitian for some help can give you the basics on calories so you can monitor them on your own over time.

Protein is similar to calories, and will change with growth and age as well. Most every food contains some protein, and the amount needed is much less than most people would think. If your child is not the best eater, they may be getting enough protein, regardless. A dietitian can help you determine how much is needed, and how much is actually in your child’s diet now. They can also give suggestion on food sources that work for your child.

The government provides guidelines on vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, but many conditions can change needs. Some medications interfere with absorption of certain vitamins, while vitamins can interact with some medications. Knowing this information, a dietitian can better guide with changes to help limit the interactions, and allow medications and vitamins do what they do best. Use of a supplement may be needed, and this can be a discussion with the dietitian, about which kind, brand, gummy, liquid, chewable, single nutrient, or multivitamin mineral supplements would be best.

Photo by Lauren Vitiello
Photo by Lauren Vitiello

Hydration is the last of the overlooked nutrients in the diet, and although most of us think we drink an adequate amount of fluid in a day, most often this is not the case. With infants most of their hydration comes from breast milk or formula, so no added fluid is necessary. With introduction of baby foods, hydration is still achieved as most baby foods are very watery. But as children reduce and eliminate these primary sources of nutrition, they are replaced with solids. Nearly all foods provide fluid, so we do get fluid from foods, but the body has to work to remove the fluid from the molecules it is bound to when the food is more solid in form. Drinking water is the best way to hydrate a body, and as a rule of thumb, drinking half your body weight in water is an achievable goal.

Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley offers exceptional Nutritional Therapy for anyone who feels their child is struggling with nutritional development. Our registered Dietitian/Nutritionist will first asses your child’s nutrition and then provided a individualized plan specific to your child’s needs.

Click here to learn more about this great service, or to schedule an appointment, call our intake coordinator at 630.261.6287.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

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