Introduction to Nutrition Throughout the Lifecycle

Throughout all of the seasons of life, food is a basic human need. That’s just as true for a newborn infant filling her tiny tummy with breast milk as it is for her mother, whose body is performing the physiological feat of synthesizing milk for her baby. And it’s equally true for her grandparents, who are preparing a meal to share with the new family once they come home from the hospital. Food nourishes our bodies in every stage of life, but eating together is also a way of nurturing our social and emotional connections with one another.

Yet, as we grow and change, so do our nutrient needs, and every stage of life brings unique challenges. In this unit, we’ll cover nutritional considerations in several key stages: pregnancy and breastfeeding, infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, and older adulthood.

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Unit Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you should be able to:

  1. Describe how nutrient and energy requirements change during pregnancy and lactation.
  2. Provide recommendations for eating and lifestyle habits that can alleviate common pregnancy symptoms to support the health of both the mother and baby.
  3. Outline feeding recommendations for infants, including the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding, the importance of feeding responsively, and the introduction of solid foods.
  4. Describe nutritional considerations for feeding toddlers.
  5. Define the division of responsibility and eating competence; describe how these models encourage life-long healthy eating.
  6. Name feeding practices that can encourage picky eating and what to do instead.
  7. Describe how energy and nutrient requirements change in adolescence.
  8. Identify specific nutrition concerns for adolescence, as well as strategies for addressing those concerns.
  9. Describe how nutrient and energy requirements change in older adulthood.
  10. Identify specific nutrition concerns for elderly people, as well as strategies for addressing those nutrition concerns.

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Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application by Alice Callahan, PhD, Heather Leonard, MEd, RDN, and Tamberly Powell, MS, RDN is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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