Parents look to guide and mould their children, from social behavior to education and right nutrition. Children these days are more prone to junk food that lends nothing but empty calories. With chaotic schedules for both parents, modern day kids are deprived of the right nutrition. Media pressure on kids to remain thin and skinny like their idols also plays no small role in poor nutritional habits.
Research points out that correct nutrition provided during the formative years has a great bearing on the future health of the child. What your children eat today will be reflected in their health during their childhood, adolescence and throughout adulthood. Lack of proper nutrition during the growing stages of life can lead them to many a problem. Check out facts on nutrition for kids. Find out how you can introduce healthy eating habits in kids.
Nutrition Details for kids
As children grow, one of the first sign of expressing their freedom is to make choices on what food they like and what they don't. As they start going to school, they are exposed to different types of food and can hardly resist the temptation. It is essential that at this stage parents take a proactive step in educating kids on the right nutritional habits. Children between six and twelve years grow taller by one to two feet and gain double the weight within this period. This growth phase must be augmented with adequate nutrition.
- Children have to eat at least three meals and two healthy snacks in a day.
- Nutrition for kids must come from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Children need calcium to strengthen their bones and to avoid diseases in the future. Milk and dairy products can provide this.
- Children need proteins from fish, poultry products and meat and vegetables.
- Minerals, vitamins and micronutrients must find place in the child's daily diet.
- Children do not require high levels of sugar intake, but it is given to understand that optimum levels of carbohydrates and sugar
- intake does increase the energy level in children.
- Giving a child breakfast that is rich in fiber content will help maintain adrenalin level in the blood. Shredded wheat, oatmeal, berries, bananas etc are good sources of fiber.
- Lunch packed with high fiber food will also help the child remain active throughout the day. Fresh fruits, grapes, whole-grain breads can be given at snack time.
Nutritious diet for kids
A recent study shows that American adults have adapted to healthy eating habits whereas children are doing just the opposite. Obesity has drastically increased among children aged 6 and 17 in the past two decades.
- Ensure that your child eats sufficient portions of fruits and vegetables. Remember that fruits and vegetables make for good nibbles too if you make them interesting enough. Fruits and vegetables can be served at least five times a day in the form of juice, salad, raw or boiled vegetables do not forget green leafy vegetables.
- Ensure your child gets to drink enough water.
- Six to eleven servings of whole grain products per day equivalent to a slice of bread or ½ cup rice per serving are recommended.
- Protein is the key to good health; feed your children with cooked lean meat, poultry or fish in two to three servings of 2-3 ounces per day. Egg, cooked dry beans, peanut butter can also be served instead of lean meat.
- Two to three cups of low-fat milk or yogurt or cheese can provide the growing child with sufficient calcium.
- Zinc provided in sufficient levels can enhance memory power. Milk, whole grains, dried beans and peas, liver, pork, beef, oysters, poultry, nuts etc are rich sources of zinc.
- Try substituting baked potatoes for French fries, popcorn for potato chips, baked/grilled chicken for fried chicken, English muffins for doughnuts/pastries, low-fat frozen yogurt for ice creams. If schools too adopt a healthy diet policy for children, then it will be easier for the children to shift over to healthy diets with minimal temptations for fat-rich food.
- Drop the soda off your children's diet plan, as girls who consume excessive soda as part of their diet end up breaking their bones easily.
- Do not deprive children of fast food; cook them at home instead. Use lean meat for their burgers, serve it on whole grain bun with lots of salad topping and make their French fries at home using a microwave.
- Ensure that the child gets to eat a balanced diet. No two children are alike and so are their eating requirements. So never try to force anything on your child that the child can do without. Finally consult your child's physician for the best diet plan for your child.
Tips to ensure better nutrition in kids
The prime concern for most parents is ensuring the right nutritional intake for their children, especially as more kids are succumbing to the lure of fast food over nutritious and wholesome meals. Given below are tips that can guide parents in helping their children shift towards healthy eating habits.
Top of the Page: Nutrition for Kids
- As a parent, ensure that you buy food that is nutritionally rich; healthy and wholesome.
- Parents are role models for their children; ensure that you eat a healthy diet and indirectly encourage them to do the same.
- Fix a time for meals and snacks, though the routine might be difficult to follow in the beginning.
- Make kids realize that they have to eat only when they are hungry and not eat just to kill time.
- High fat and high sugar foods are better suited for the departmental store shelves rather than your kitchen shelves. Leave them there to avoid arguments with your children as to why they should not eat these kinds of food.
- Do not use the lure of food items to encourage children.
- Television is a major influence on all children and they tend to get carried away by attractive commercials advertising high sugar, high fat food. Encourage your children to indulge themselves in outdoor activities rather than sitting glued right in front of the television sets and later demanding for the same.
- Serve small portions on your child's plate, let them ask for more after they finish. This habit will help them better understand their hunger requirements.
- Try new methods of presenting vegetables to your children, add carrots and broccoli in their pasta, add spinach to their spaghetti and slowly encourage them to pick up the habit of choosing healthy food.
- Do not force or impose any food habit on your children, do not force them to quit all their favorite fast food overnight itself. Talk to them and make them understand what is good and beneficial for them and let them enjoy what they are doing.
- Remember nutritious eating is a life time practice and let them develop it instead of forcing them into it.
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