Thursday, August 7, 2008

Unbalanced Diets Can Harm Your Child

Unbalanced Diets Can Harm Your ChildAll of us with an interest in healthy eating can safely say that at the moment, we're facing a health information overload. Which is not necessarily a bad thing – on the contrary, especially since important information connected to various innovations and new research in the field of dieting and healthy eating can now become readily available to a large number of people in a very short time span.

However, there's a downside to this: sometimes, there's too much information to choose from, and we all run the risk of not knowing which sources to trust and which to regard with a certain amount of suspicion. When it comes to making dietary choices for our children, such an information overload can have serious consequences.

The fact is, when it comes to feeding young children, a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can actually prove harmful rather than beneficial. Doctors report a growing number of cases in which parents put their young children on unbalanced vegetarian, vegan or raw food diets and unknowingly deprived them of the healthy nutrients found in fish, meat and dairy products, which led to weakness, lack of appetite and energy as well as loss of bone and muscle mass.

A recent study that looked at various types of nursery foods concluded that many nurseries are actually feeding toddlers a diet that is extremely high in fruit and vegetables and too low in calories and fats, putting them at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. Even more worryingly, some parents are also doing the same thing.

"There's so much health information that parents are confused," says Daily Mail nutritionist Jane Clarke. "They think it's best to take what they think are "bad things" out of their child's diet, but often denying children meat, milk or wheat can do more harm than good." We all need a constant supply of energy to fuel our lives and children in particular always need to be alert in order to learn new things every day and lead healthy lives, enjoy sports and running around outside with their friends.

Forcing a child to go on a dairy-free route early in his life, for example, also means parents must offer him an alternative source of calcium or risk everything from bad teeth to poor bone growth and osteoporosis. An excess of red meat may not be a good idea, but if parents decide to remove it from their children's diets, they must also replace the vital iron that children get from eating it. Iron is essential for physical growth and the development of our brains.

On the whole, placing too many restrictions on children's diets is not a very good option. "An American study found that restricting children's access to snacks leads to more snacking later in life. It's particularly true of young girls. By making sweets and crisps taboo, they become all the more attractive," one pediatric health and exercise specialist recommends. Be careful: don't treat children like adults and don't assume they need the same type of restrictive diets. If in doubt, consult a specialist and you'll be sure to get the right answer.

No comments: