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Nutrition Basics

Good nutrition leads to good health, and is essential for children to grow and thrive to their fullest potential! 

Nutrition plays a critical role in a child’s health, growth and brain development throughout life. Here’s some helpful information to help you get your child off to a healthy start.

Foods are classified into food groups based on what they have in common, such as nutrient content or where they come from (i.e., plants).

There are five commonly recognized food groups: 

  1. Cereal, grains, pasta, rice, bread and potatoes 
  2. Fruits 
  3. Vegetables 
  4. Milk, dairy and calcium-rich foods 
  5. Meats, beans and legumes 

Diet optimization means getting the greatest possible nutrition and health benefits from daily food choices. One way to do this is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from each food group. 

For children who have been adopted, it can be especially important to find out if they are lacking in any micronutrients and to address any deficiencies as soon as possible.

Water is essential to every cell, tissue and organ in the body because it: 

  • Carries nutrients throughout the body 
  • Helps regulate the body’s temperature 
  • Cushions joints and protects sensitive tissues 
  • Cleanses the body of waste through sweat, urine and the bowels. 

It is important that children drink plenty of water every day to prevent dehydration.  

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Check out additional parenting resources!

View our expanded list of recommended parenting websites, books and other resources organized by topic.

Nutrients are substances in food that are essential to the body’s growth, structure and regular functioning. Nutrients fall into two categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. 

Macronutrients are substances our body needs in large amounts. These include: 

  • Carbohydrates, found in fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, beans, lentils, milk and dairy products, and foods containing added sugar
  • Proteins, found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt, soya, nuts, beans, peas, seeds, grains and lentils 
  • Fats, found in nuts, seeds, grains, oils, fatty fish, avocado, full-fat dairy products and ghee 

Micronutrients are substances our body needs in small amounts. These include: 

  • Minerals, such as iron, calcium and magnesium 
  • Vitamins, such as vitamins A, C and D

Micronutrients such as folate, iron, iodine, zinc and vitamins A, B12 and D play very important roles in early childhood development and are the most common deficiencies among children without permanent families. If your child has been adopted, it can be especially important to find out if they are lacking in any micronutrients and to address any deficiencies as soon as possible. Connect with your dietitian or pediatrician for additional testing and resources.  

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All parents encounter challenges as their children grow up. And sometimes, issues may arise that leave you uncertain as to how best to respond. But not every issue requires therapy or counseling. The PACE program is here to help during those times.

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