No. Canada's Food Guide recommends that children not restrict nutritious foods because of their fat content. Fat can serve as a valuable source of energy to support growth and development, especially in the form of nutrient-dense foods such as peanut butter and cheese.

Children need fat in their diet as they need extra energy for growth and development. The key to ensuring a healthy diet is providing a variety of foods from the 4 food groups, which includes higher-fat and lower-fat food choices.

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Children grow and develop at individual rates. Their body weights and shapes are continually changing as a normal part of healthy development. That is why it is very difficult to pinpoint a particular healthy weight for children. You may have seen growth charts for children where their weight and height are plotted against a standard according to their age. These charts are not recommendations, but simply indicate where your child falls compared to other children. If your child is growing at a healthy rate and is eating according to Canada's Food Guide, then most likely he or she is at a healthy weight. If you suspect that your child is not growing and developing properly, discuss this with your doctor.

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If a child has a food allergy or illness and as a result they avoid foods from an entire food group, they may actually need a supplement. However if they are meeting at least their recommended minimum number of servings per food group each day, it is more likely that their nutrient needs are being met. If a child's diet is so unbalanced that supplements are thought to be required, it may be a good idea to seek out the help of a registered dietitian.

Foods contain a natural balance of vitamins, minerals, fibre, carbohydrates, protein and fats. The nutrients — plus other beneficial substances in our foods that scientists have not yet identified — work in combination to keep you healthy. No vitamin or mineral supplement can possibly provide the same balance of nutrients.

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Expose youngsters to a wide variety of foods from each of the 4 food groups at a very early age. The more often children are exposed to foods, the more likely they will taste them and learn to accept them. Don't be discouraged if your child refuses a new food experience. Sometimes it takes 6 or 7 attempts or more before a new food is accepted.

Parents and caregivers can help children accept a wider selection of foods by

  • Being a role model. Set an example by trying new and exciting foods yourself.
  • Presenting foods in fun ways by combining different colours, textures and shapes.
  • Offering small quantities of the new food alongside a familiar one.
  • Serving a new food when the child is with friends.
  • Encouraging them to become familiar with different foods by having them help grow, buy, prepare or serve them.
  • Not using food as a reward. If this is done, the child may form a preference for the food that is being offered as a reward (e.g., sweets) and a dislike for the food that you are trying to get them to eat (e.g., Brussels sprouts).
  • Respecting that children have individual food preferences.

There are different ways of eating that all fall under the umbrella of vegetarianism. Veganism is the most limited (no animal products) and the least often followed. It also requires the most care to ensure nutritional adequacy. During childhood, adolescence and pregnancy, extra care must be taken in planning a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian diets that include milk and milk alternatives will help ensure adequate intakes of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin and vitamin B12 — nutrients that are a concern when milk is eliminated from the diet.

For guidelines on how to plan a vegetarian diet for your child, consult a registered dietitian. You can find a dietitian through the Dietitians of Canada Web site (www.dietitians.ca) under "Find a Nutrition Professional" or phone your local health unit. The key nutrients you will want to make sure your child gets enough of include calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and enough calories or energy.