Is Your Child's Diet Making Her Sick?

Children nowadays live by few diet rules and typically don't follow healthy eating habits. With the abundance of junk food choices available, there is a greater tendency to overeat, under nourish themselves or overindulge in those foods that are least beneficial to their health. Unfortunately, it is not just their waistline that can be affected by this type of diet. It is affecting the way they talk, walk, sleep, think, feel and react to situations.

If your child is complaining about a frequent migraine or headache, upset stomach, vomiting sensation or is just not her same chirpy self, maybe it is time for you to look critically at her dietary habits. If she isn't eating healthy, then there's a good chance that her diet is what's making her sick.

The number one health problem in the US, it has been found that one in every seven children is obese in this country. According to the USDA, kids between the ages of 2 and18 are consuming more than 100 extra calories daily, which is then stored in their body as fat. Over eating not only increases your child's risk of obesity, but it is also the main reason behind a number of other health problems, such as heart troubles, high blood pressure, and body aches.

Heart Diseases
The heart is an important muscle in our body required to continuously pump blood and beat up to 70 to 80 times every minute. Although heart disease is generally associated with older individuals, you may be laying the groundwork for this health issue now if you allow your child to eat a diet high in fatty foods.

When your child consumes foods that are high in fat and cholesterol, the inner walls of the arteries develop a layer of fatty tissues. With time, this layer may become so thick that it blocks the blood supply from the heart to the organs. This can lead to a heart attack. Limiting your child's intake of chips, cookies, cakes, pastries, and fast food (that means hamburgers, french fries, and pizza) can help reduce his risk of heart disease later on.

High Blood Pressure
Arteriosclerosis is the term used when fatty layers start building inside the artery walls. Though this condition is present in almost everyone, those eating fat-rich diets frequently are more at risk. As the fatty layers start to accumulate, proper blood circulation in the body becomes inhibited. The passage of blood flow becomes so narrow that the blood in the arteries are forced to exert more pressure, which is what we refer to as high blood pressure. Again, having high blood pressure is normally associated with those over 60. Yet, due to the increase in unhealthy eating habits, children as young as 10 to 15 years old have been found to have symptoms of high blood pressure.

Children usually suffer from type 1 diabetes, in which their pancreas is unable to supply enough insulin required to break up the sugar levels in the body and send energy to different cells. The unutilized sugar therefore remains in the blood and can harm blood vessels, the heart, kidneys, and eyes among other things. However, there has also been an increase in the cases of type 2 diabetes, in part because of the rise in obesity.

If your child develops diabetes, whether it is type 1 or type 2, she will require daily medication for the rest of his life. Although Type 1 diabetes is often not preventable, Type 2 diabetes can be. Following the USDA's Food Pyramid for child nutrition and minimizing the amount of junk food your child eats can help reduce his risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Bones need calcium to help build their strength and keep them healthy. Yet, too many children avoid calcium rich food products, like milk and yogurt, that supply this calcium to their bones. Eventually, this can result in the bones becoming weak, porous and brittle. Known as osteoporosis, the symptoms of this bone disease are usually not seen until adulthood. However, it is during the childhood years, especially the teen years, that calcium and other minerals are laid down to ensure proper bone growth during adulthood. So, if you have a teenager in the house, make sure she is meeting her daily calcium intake requirements.

Anemia is a blood condition whereby your body does not have enough red blood cells to perform its duties. People with anemia often feel tired, fatigued, and irritable because their body is working so hard to get enough oxygen to all areas of the body. Although there are different reasons as to why a person may develop anemia, one of the most common is a lack of iron in the diet. Teenage girls more commonly develop anemia. If you notice that your child is crankier and more lethargic than usual, consider whether they are eating enough iron. Anemia can be corrected by increasing your child's iron intake or through prescribed iron pills.

Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Constipation
Irregular food habits can cause a number of digestive problems in young children. Vomiting and diarrhea may occur when your child's body cannot accept any more food or, because of the irregularity, becomes too weak to digest the food. If your child has been eating a lot of sugary candy bars, chocolates, and cookies lately, then the probability of diarrhea increases because of the high sugar intake.

Another problem with eating a lot of junk and not eating healthy foods: constipation. Our bodies need fiber in order to remove waste products. The best places to find fiber? Fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If your child is suffering from occasional bouts of constipation, you may want to look to include more raw fruits and vegetables, like apple slices and carrot sticks, and less of the not so good stuff.

Dehydration often occurs in children when they are sick or can be a side effect of diarrhea, as the body loses a lot of water through diarrhea. However, it is possible for children to be affected by mild dehydration if they do not drink enough water during the day. In mild cases, symptoms of dehydration can include fatigue, headaches, irritability, dry lips or mouth, and flushed skin.

An easy way to tell if your child is dehydrated is by examining the color of your child's urine. In people that are hydrated, urine is pale or clear. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are. Another obvious sign of dehydration is thirst. If you find yourself feeling thirsty, then chances are that your fluids are slightly depleted.

To help combat dehydration, make sure your child drinks between 8 and 10 glasses of water every day, throughout the day.

Low Blood Sugar
Children who are not used to eating a healthy diet are known to be moody, have high tempers, poor concentration, often complain of headaches and can become irritable quite easily. Of course, these symptoms can also be present in children who have gone too long between meals. Headaches in children, irritability and poor concentration can result when your child's blood sugar is low. Skipping meals, not eating for long periods of time, and eating meals high in refined carbohydrates (which quickly raises the blood sugar and energy levels before suddenly dropping) all contribute to having low blood sugar.

Making sure your child eats regular meals at regular intervals, as well as has healthy snacks in between, will help his blood sugar levels stay consistent and even throughout the day, contributing to a better mood.

Sometimes a child may display symptoms, such as sore throat, wheezing, rashes, diarrhea, or a runny nose, that are not necessarily due to unhealthy eating but are actually caused by a food allergy. Common food allergies can include tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish, dairy products and soy. Other children may avoid milk and dairy products because of a lactose intolerance, a condition where the body does not have the necessary enzyme that digests milk lactose.

If you suspect that your child may have a food allergy, carefully keep track of her diet for a few weeks, making note of any symptoms she displays after eating certain foods. Also, make an appointment with her doctor to discuss the issue. Some allergies can be especially serious and could even be life threatening, so it is best investigate any possible food-related allergies.