Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Veggie Kids

More and more children today are vegetarians either by having parents that raise them vegetarian or by choosing the lifestyle themselves (sometimes at a very early age!).  There is plenty of research which shows that a vegetarian lifestyle has enormous health benefits.  Vegetarians tend to consume more fiber, vitamins and minerals from a variety of sources. They also have lower cholesterol levels, and less likeliness of developing chronic illnesses such as obesity, atherosclerosis, asthma, and diabetes. Vegetarian foods are a more efficient energy source than animal products as they are easier for the body to break-down and leave a smaller carbon footprint.  There are often concerns about children being able to receive the nutrients that they need for proper growth and development when omitting meat from their diet.  Essentially, without meat, poultry and fish, we need to ensure that a child receives sufficient protein, iron and zinc.  There are plenty of veggie based protein and iron rich foods like tofu, lentils, chickpeas, beans and  zinc can be found primarily whole grains, wheat germ, lima beans, soy, and nuts.  As with all children, offer your veggie loving little ones 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily so that they have many opportunities to receive the nutrition that they need.  If there are any concerns about growth or nutritional intake, discuss it with your child's pediatrician or pediatric dietitian.  

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