DIET TIPS ON HEALTHY LIVING FOR CHILDREN
Nutritional Concerns Of School Going Children
Nutrition is all about the food we eat, and how our body utilizes it. No food contains all the nutrients needed to grow well and keep healthy.
Good nutrition is important for a child’s growth and development. Children, who do not receive sufficient food, especially during their critical growth periods, suffer from malnutrition. Proper nutrition improves mental functioning and increases immunity.
School-aged children (6-12 years) tend to grow consistently but at a slow rate. For proper growth and development they need optimum nutrition and healthy foods.
Poor food choices can adversely impact the growth and development.
HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES
Following food groups should be included to the diet of children in a balanced way to ensure optimum nutrition:
- PROTEINS: include animal products like milk, meat, egg etc. combine cereal and pulse for improved protein quality.
- VEGETABLES: include green leafy and other colorful vegetables to the diet to fulfill the basic requirements of vitamins and minerals. Example: spinach, green beans, broccoli, etc.
- FRUITS: add different varieties of fruits to the menu for vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. Fresh seasonal fruit juices are also a healthier option.
- GRAINS: whole grains are an important source of essential nutrients. Include whole grains to the diet to improve the nutritional quality of the food.
- DAIRY: fat-free or low-fat dairy products can be used to improve the quality of the diet.
- FATS AND OILS: include foods rich in oils and fats as children require optimum nutrition to grow well.
Healthy Eating Habits
The following are some tips to establish healthy eating habits among children:
- Provide a well balanced diet, including foods from all the food groups adding variety to the menu.
- Breakfast should not be neglected, and the packed lunch should be nutritious.
- Five servings of fruit per day is a must to meet the requirements for vitamins and minerals.
- Adequate energy intake from a judicious selection of cereals, sugar and fats and oils will prevent underweight and obesity in children.
- Include foods providing nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc because of their role in development.
- Foods liked by children can be prepared at home using healthier options, like low fat cheese for pizzas, whole wheat buns for burgers etc.
- Substitute aerated drinks with milk-based beverages and fresh fruit juices.
- Prefer home cooked foods as they are much healthier and nutritious than various fast foods.
Healthy Tiffin Ideas
- Palak poori
- Paneer kachori
- Vegetable idli/ uttapam
- Dal tikki burger
- Besan bathua cheela
- Vegetable Cheese grilled sandwich
The diet during childhood influences not only the immediate health of children, but may also impact their future health status.
It is easy to introduce the child to new healthy foods at this time as most of their tastes, likes and dislikes develop during this period. These days captivating fast food advertisements on television influences the children to eat junk foods which should be changed as the habits, likes and dislikes established in the early years are carried throughout one’s life.
So, to achieve optimum growth, changes in the diet should be made and parents must encourage their children to choose wisely among the various food options available in order to live a healthy life.