Others complain of being ill or sore often, have bags under their eyes or skin blemishes, can be moody, and have difficulties learning or focusing. These symptoms, good and bad, are most often related to food.

I can recall one child who would always come to class with candy, chips, pop, or some type of junk food. Her attention in class was poor, she was constantly complaining of injury, and was often sick.

Unfortunately, she no longer dances because it was too much for her – her nutritional habits didn’t support the focus and physical strength that was required.

Making sure your child is getting the right nutrients, and eliminating as many unhealthy foods as possible, is imperative to your child’s health and behaviour.

Here is a brief summary of the important nutrients to include in your child’s daily diet for optimal health.

Protein. Proper protein is needed to build new cells while growing. Most kids enjoy protein of some form or another.

There are concerns with factory-farmed meat and dairy products, however, because the antibiotics, growth hormones and other chemicals used to raise livestock in crowded conditions can be transferred through the meat.

Sadly, there is a long list of health problems, such as asthma, allergies, and even cancer, that may be connected to these chemicals.

A good reference for organic farms in the Yukon where you can purchase good quality meat and dairy can be found athttp://farmproducts.yukonfood.com/producers.htm.

Healthy Fats (and unhealthy ones!). Omega-3 fats are essential to health, especially for growing brains and bodies.

Fresh fish and flax seeds are some of the few sources of these fats and should be included in your child’s diet on a daily basis. You can also get good quality children’s Omega-3 supplements at health food stores such as Whitehorse’s 3 Beans.

Unhealthy fats, called trans fat or hydrogenated fat, are very toxic to our bodies and should be avoided. They are found in foods such as cookies, crackers, chips, margarine, frozen dinners, popcorn, deep-fried foods, and more.

Food companies label these fats under the fat category (called trans fat) on the food label so check that out before purchasing any of the above items.

Fibre. Fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, legumes and whole grains are a great source of fibre, which is essential to digestive health and immunity. These food groups (aside from fruit) are often not being eaten enough by kids.

You can increase the amount of fresh vegetables in your children’s diets in some simple ways. Try introducing fresh juices and smoothies (include fruit as well for taste), keep sliced fresh veggies and home-made dip easily accessible in the fridge for snacking, add extra vegetables to sandwiches and wraps, or try homemade guacamole and mild salsa on organic tortilla chips.

Also, adding whole grains, such as brown rice, millet, barley, oatmeal or multigrain bread into your child’s daily diet will make a difference.

Nutrients and Enzymes. These are important at all ages, in every aspect of cellular metabolism and growth. Fresh organic produce (and sprouts), eaten raw, is the best source of nutrients and enzymes.

Getting your kids into planting the garden in late spring and watching the vegetables grow is a great way to get them enthusiastic about fresh produce. For those days you are eating on the go, have some good-quality children’s vitamins on hand (such as Sisu or Natural Factors).

These days, kids consume sugar way too often. As a child I ate entirely too much sugar and continued to do so well into adulthood.

Now, after almost two years of studying nutrition and changing my eating habits entirely, that sugar overdose still haunts my health every once and a while! I could write an entire book about how sugar is detrimental to your health. rom my experience as a dance teacher, I see kids full of energy, happy, looking vibrant, and able to learn well.

Others complain of being ill or sore often, have bags under their eyes or skin blemishes, can be moody, and have difficulties learning or focusing. These symptoms, good and bad, are most often related to food.

I can recall one child who would always come to class with candy, chips, pop, or some type of junk food. Her attention in class was poor, she was constantly complaining of injury, and was often sick.

Unfortunately, she no longer dances because it was too much for her – her nutritional habits didn’t support the focus and physical strength that was required.

Making sure your child is getting the right nutrients, and eliminating as many unhealthy foods as possible, is imperative to your child’s health and behaviour.

Here is a brief summary of the important nutrients to include in your child’s daily diet for optimal health.

Protein. Proper protein is needed to build new cells while growing. Most kids enjoy protein of some form or another.

There are concerns with factory-farmed meat and dairy products, however, because the antibiotics, growth hormones and other chemicals used to raise livestock in crowded conditions can be transferred through the meat.

Sadly, there is a long list of health problems, such as asthma, allergies, and even cancer, that may be connected to these chemicals.

A good reference for organic farms in the Yukon where you can purchase good quality meat and dairy can be found at http://farmproducts.yukonfood.com/producers.htm.

Healthy Fats (and unhealthy ones!). Omega-3 fats are essential to health, especially for growing brains and bodies.

Fresh fish and flax seeds are some of the few sources of these fats and should be included in your child’s diet on a daily basis. You can also get good quality children’s Omega-3 supplements at health food stores such as Whitehorse’s 3 Beans.

Unhealthy fats, called trans fat or hydrogenated fat, are very toxic to our bodies and should be avoided. They are found in foods such as cookies, crackers, chips, margarine, frozen dinners, popcorn, deep-fried foods, and more.

Food companies label these fats under the fat category (called trans fat) on the food label so check that out before purchasing any of the above items.

Fibre. Fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, legumes and whole grains are a great source of fibre, which is essential to digestive health and immunity. These food groups (aside from fruit) are often not being eaten enough by kids.

You can increase the amount of fresh vegetables in your children’s diets in some simple ways. Try introducing fresh juices and smoothies (include fruit as well for taste), keep sliced fresh veggies and home-made dip easily accessible in the fridge for snacking, add extra vegetables to sandwiches and wraps, or try homemade guacamole and mild salsa on organic tortilla chips.

Also, adding whole grains, such as brown rice, millet, barley, oatmeal or multigrain bread into your child’s daily diet will make a difference.

Nutrients and Enzymes. These are important at all ages, in every aspect of cellular metabolism and growth. Fresh organic produce (and sprouts), eaten raw, is the best source of nutrients and enzymes.

Getting your kids into planting the garden in late spring and watching the vegetables grow is a great way to get them enthusiastic about fresh produce. For those days you are eating on the go, have some good-quality children’s vitamins on hand (such as Sisu or Natural Factors).

These days, kids consume sugar way too often. As a child I ate entirely too much sugar and continued to do so well into adulthood.

Now, after almost two years of studying nutrition and changing my eating habits entirely, that sugar overdose still haunts my health every once and a while! I could write an entire book about how sugar is detrimental to your health.

But completely eliminating sugar from your child’s diet can lead to their wanting it more and sneaking around trying to get it. I suggest talking to your kids about it and how it can affect their health, and check out Joey Shulman’s book Winning the Food Fight.

Also, make sure you have many healthy alternatives to sugar in your house, such as a variety of fresh fruit, homemade jams with little or no sweeteners to top yogurt or toast, and unsweetened dried fruit and nut mixes.

There are many great sources of information about children’s nutrition on the Internet. One complete list, which includes how much to feed your child, is at www.mayoclinic.com/health/nutrition-for-kids/NU00606.

An article about kids’ health wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the importance of exercise, especially in our technological day and age. Encouraging kids to get at least 30 minutes of solid exercise per day (above and beyond what they do at school) is so important to overall health.

It’s never too late to introduce healthy eating to your child. Plan it well, talk it out with them and, above all else, set a good example. Their health (and yours) will ultimately benefit.

But completely eliminating sugar from your child’s diet can lead to their wanting it more and sneaking around trying to get it. I suggest talking to your kids about it and how it can affect their health, and check out Joey Shulman’s book Winning the Food Fight.

Also, make sure you have many healthy alternatives to sugar in your house, such as a variety of fresh fruit, homemade jams with little or no sweeteners to top yogurt or toast, and unsweetened dried fruit and nut mixes.

There are many great sources of information about children’s nutrition on the Internet. One complete list, which includes how much to feed your child, is atwww.mayoclinic.com/health/nutrition-for-kids/NU00606.

An article about kids’ health wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the importance of exercise, especially in our technological day and age. Encouraging kids to get at least 30 minutes of solid exercise per day (above and beyond what they do at school) is so important to overall health.

It’s never too late to introduce healthy eating to your child. Plan it well, talk it out with them and, above all else, set a good example. Their health (and yours) will ultimately benefit.