Lee Holmes is a mum on a mission, author of Supercharged Food and Supercharged Food for Kids and founder of www.superchargedfood.com an altruistic website to help people expand their range of healthy food choices and plan ahead to create and maintain a satisfying, wholesome and nourishing diet. Lee is a Certified Health Coach (Institute of Integrative Nutrition) and Whole Foods Chef.
Children have many nutritional needs to meet and now more than ever the need for nutrient dense, wholefoods has never been greater. Growth requirements combined with physical activity play a role in determining a child's nutritional needs. Factors can include genetic background, gender, body size and shape. The actual nutrients needed by children are the same as needed by adults, but the amounts vary so it’s important to feed children nutritious foods so that they are meeting their requirements and have energy for growing and physical activity.
Many parents have used RDI’s (recommended daily intake) to meet their child’s nutritional needs but it’s important for parents and caregivers to understand that RDI’s are general guidelines aimed at the prevention of disease, not the optimization of health. The RDI for vitamin C for example is based on the known amount that prevents scurvy. The nutritional requirements of children are immense and their needs are much higher than adults per unit of weight due to their astounding growth rates.
Children require larger amounts of protein for growth than maintenance whereas adults require most of their protein for maintenance only. As a child’s liver holds approximately four hours of reserve glucose in storage they need to eat in small frequent bursts to stabilize their blood sugar. There are a variety of vitamins and minerals which support growth and development during childhood.
Zinc is crucial as a structural component of growing cells and it provides the framework for cells to function at their best. Zinc will increase immunity and help balance blood sugar levels. It’s important to note that children low in zinc have a higher incidence of food allergy. Zinc can be found in grass fed beef & lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, egg yolks and brazil nuts.
Iron has many vital functions as it increases oxygen circulation, keeps the immune system healthy and helps to produce energy. Dietary iron comes in two forms: heme iron (found in meat) and non-heme iron (found in plant foods). Iron rich foods include grass fed red meat, lentils, asparagus, spinach, egg yolks, blackstrap molasses, raw cacao and spirulina. Please note, excessive dairy consumption can reduce iron absorption.
Calcium requirements for children are high, especially between birth and puberty as a child’s bone structure increases 7-fold. Aim to get at least 1000mg per day as calcium is vital for proper muscle function as well as strong bones. If you give dairy products to your child, ensure they are full fat and certified organic. But don’t be fooled into believing you need to eat dairy, simply eat calcium rich alternatives such as sardines, almonds, unhulled sesame seeds, flaxseeds, parsley, broccoli, spinach, watercress and figs. Please note that adequate levels of vitamin D are important for calcification of bone.
Magnesium is the most relaxing mineral of all and crucial for growing children. It helps build strong bones and balance blood sugar. A magnesium deficiency can cause irritability, restlessness, poor sleep, and muscle cramps.
Research has shown a tendency for overweight children to be lower in magnesium and this can be easily addressed by eating magnesium rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, sesame seeds, cashews, almonds, raw cacao and sea vegetables such as dulse and kelp.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are critical for optimal nervous system development and a deficiency can result in impaired learning ability and behavioral changes. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation making them invaluable in the treatment of eczema, asthma and hay fever. Aim to eat oily fish such as salmon, ocean trout, mackerel and sardines twice a week along with ground flaxseeds and walnuts.
Protein provides building blocks for growth and development as well as forming the basis of antibodies to help boost immunity. Children low in protein are more susceptible to infections and experience more sugar and salt cravings.
Ensure your child has regular protein from a variety of sources such as grass fed meat, organic poultry (including turkey), oily fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils and spirulina. B vitamins help growing bodies unlock the energy found in fats, proteins and carbohydrates. They are water soluble and therefore required in small, frequent doses throughout the day. Good sources of B vitamins include grass fed meat, organic poultry, salmon, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, organic liver and spirulina.
Vitamin C is critical for growing bodies, as it is a potent antioxidant, increases iron absorption and boosts the ability of white blood cells to fight infection. Vitamin C plays an important structural role in the formation of collagen and therefore increases wound healing. Foods high in vitamin C include papaya, red capsicums, strawberries, blackcurrants, oranges, broccoli, pineapples, kiwifruit and goji berries.
A good tip for parents is to try and provide a variety of foods and establish regular meal and snack times with their children.
Nutritious Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
Yum! Chicken Noodle Soup is almost every kid’s favorite, and some adults love to indulge in it on bed holidays due to it’s amazing restorative qualities.
This easy recipe which comes from my new book called Supercharged Food for Kids, it provides delicious and quick results without having to slave over a hot stove for hours. Not to mention the slurpability factor which is just out-of-this-world. The trick to making the best tasting Chicken Noodle Soup is to use good quality ingredients and if you have home-made stock on hand that’s even better.
1 packet brown rice noodles
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 onion finely chopped
4 fresh celery leaves torn
3 celery sticks sliced
3/4 cup carrot sliced
2 Tbsp minced dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 chicken breasts roughly chopped
1 head broccoli roughly chopped
1/2 cauliflower head roughly chopped
1 cup green beans chopped
5 cups homemade chicken stock
1 Tbsp wheat-free tamari
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Celtic Sea salt to taste
1. Cook noodles as per directions so that they are al dente
2. Brown onion in a saucepan in coconut oil
3. Add celery, carrot and herbs and sauté for a further 3 minutes and season
4. Add chicken and sauté for 4 minutes stirring often
5. Add vegetables then pour in stock, and tamari and Apple Cider Vinegar bring to boil and reduce and simmer for 20 mins
Just before serving the soup, add the noodles to the pot and stir to separate
What is your child's favorite healthy recipe? Do you have any tips and tricks to get your kids eating more nutritious food?
Source: Lee Holmes (Supercharged Foods)