Paleo, gluten-free or other diets that limit certain foods may keep growing bodies from getting the nutrition they need.

Are you tempted to give up meat, dairy, carbohydrates or other foods to lose weight or feel healthier? Those changes can be fine for adults. But parents should make sure children still eat a balanced diet with lots of healthy choices.

“Kids are still growing,” says Tara Todd, RD, LD, registered pediatric dietitian at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Some fad diets can limit certain food groups that are part of a healthy diet. That keeps kids from getting proper nutrition.”

Diet don’ts

Your child’s pediatrician can answer any questions you have about making changes to her diet. But in general, don’t limit these foods for children:

  • Dairy—Many kids don’t get enough vitamin D. This bone-building vitamin comes from the sun, but it’s also found in milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
  • Whole grains—Whole grains, including wheat, are rich in carbohydrates. Kids need these for energy, especially if they play sports. Whole grains also contain healthy fiber.

Think about health

“Managing weight and being healthy aren’t easy,” Todd says. “Eat from all food groups. Keep an eye on portion size. Be active. Those are the best things parents can focus on.”

Have questions about your child’s eating habits? Talk to your child’s pediatrician. If you need one, call St. Louis Children’s Hospital at 314.454.KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 800.678.KIDS.

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Expert Advice