The importance of a healthy diet for children

How to ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need

With parent’s fast paced lives and busy schedules, making food is often a matter of convenience, rather than a matter of nutrition. Busy moms and dads often resort to fast food or take-away, just because it takes less time to prepare.

However, these foods are usually very unhealthy and do not supply the important nutrients your child needs.

The types of food your child eats when they are young will have a significant impact on their health throughout adolescents and adulthood and can even prevent chronic health issues in later life.

Children’s food must contain the vital nutrients required for physical growth and mental development.

To ensure kids are getting the vitamins and minerals they need, they must eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from all the different food groups.

They need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, beans, lentils, moderate amounts of lean meat, fish, nuts and dairy products.

A list of some of the vital nutrients children need


Children need calcium to develop strong bones and teeth. Calcium can be found in Dairy products such as- yoghurt, milk and cheese, as well as in fish and spinach.

Vitamin C

It supports the immune system and forms collagen. Collagen is vital for the development of healthy bones, gums and blood vessels. You can find Vitamin C in citrus fruits and broccoli.


Zinc enables normal growth in infants and supports a healthy immune system in children. It can be found in fish, meat and beans.


This nutrient is required for normal brain development and learning ability. Good sources of iodine are fish, seafood and fortified bread.

Vitamin B

Helps the body convert the food we eat into energy, children need vitamin B to keep active. Vitamin B can be found in chicken, eggs and wholegrains.

How to encourage your children to love healthy food

To encourage kids to eat a wide variety of foods, it is important to be a good role model. As parents, we are an important influence to our children and can do many things to help them develop healthy eating habits for life.

Parents can show by example and eat a healthy variety, such as – fruits, vegetables and wholegrains with meals. They can also make sure they keep the house stocked with fresh fruit and introduce new and exciting foods at meal times.

You can get creative in the kitchen and let your children see how fun it is to cook with healthy ingredients.

You could also get kids involved in the food shopping and discuss where fruits, vegetables, meats and grains come from. Let your child make healthy food choices themselves.


By Liesl Silverman

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Kids Connection was successfully launched in March 2006 by Wendy Beaufort for distribution to parents and teachers in the local Port Elizabeth market. The comprehensive directory for young families from newborn to 12 years, was born because, Wendy, a mom of three, understood the importance of having detailed information related to children that is aimed at assisting young families spend less time PLANNING and more time PLAYING….READ MORE