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HEALTH IS WHAT MATTERS October 9, 2008

Posted by priscilaraposo in Uncategorized.
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VEGETARIANISM

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The Choice of Vegetarianism

There are many reasons why children or families may follow a vegetarian diet. Younger vegetarians are usually part of a family that eats vegetarian meals for health or other reasons. Older children may decide to become vegetarians because of concern for animals, the environment, or their own health.

In most cases, you shouldn’t be alarmed if your child chooses vegetarianism. The best way to handle your child’s choice is to discuss what it means to him or her and how he or she wants to implement it – making sure your child makes healthy and nutritious food choices.

Making Sure It’s Nutritious

Vegetarian parents should give their children a variety of foods that provide enough calories and nutrients to enable them to grow normally. The majority of pediatric experts say a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (eating dairy products and eggs, but no meat) is a healthy choice for most children (although allergists suggest not introducing eggs until after 1 year of age).

Offering young children a diet filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps them to learn healthy eating habits that may last for a lifetime.

A Healthy Lifestyle

A vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice for all children, as long as it’s properly planned and adequate nutrients are eaten. With a little exploration, you may find more vegetarian options than you realized.

The principles of planning a vegetarian diet are the same as planning any healthy diet – provide a variety of foods and include foods from all of the food groups. A balanced diet will provide the right combinations to meet your child’s nutritional needs. But be aware of potential nutrient deficiencies in your child’s diet and figure out how you’ll account for them.

If you aren’t sure your child is getting all the nutrients he or she needs, or if you have any questions about vegetarian diets, don’t hesitate to use some of the excellent resources available to help you plan your child’s diet, including your family doctor, pediatrician, or a registered dietitian.

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