WATCH WHAT YOUR CHILD IS EATING!
Busy mothers tend not to pay much attention to their child’s diet. Here a few pointers on how to ensure children are getting the required amount of nutrients from their food…
Given their way, kids would love to grow up on a diet of junk food, chocolates and comics. As a parent, you’re concerned about more important things in life. Like what to cook for dinner.
Come evening and most of us are faced with the eternal dilemma: “What shall I cook for dinner?” Cooking healthy and nutritionally balanced meals is not a priority by the end of the day, and we may dismiss the thought as too cumbersome or too time-consuming. It need not be so! It is up to us as caring parents to ensure that while we do not impose extremes on our children’s eating habits, we provide them with tasty and nutritious meals that are good for them.
Remember, you cannot change your family’s habits overnight. While the family diet should be nutritionally sound, it should also fit in with your present way of life, and be enjoyable and easy for you and your family to live with.
GOOD NUTRITION FOR CHILDREN
Good health does depend on good nutrition – and that should start right from an early age. Children have two special needs:
FOOD FOR GROWTH
Protein : This is vital for your child’s proper growth for the following reasons:
It is required for the formation of new bone cells and their growth. Any damage to the bone cell or tissue is repaired and maintained by protein. It helps make haemoglobin, which carries oxygen and other nutrients throughout our body. It provides energy when carbohydrates and fat are deficient.
Protein is found in foods like milk and milk products like curds, paneer, and cheese, non-vegetarian foods, eggs, cereals, pulses, dals and nuts. Giving a growing child just a single source of protein will have no effect; it is advisable to provide a combination of foods, such as milk and a cereal to make porridge, or rice and dal in khichdi.
Calcium : This is a mineral that help build and strengthen bones and teeth. During childhood there is a rapid formation of new bone cells and teeth enamel. When new cells are formed, calcium starts depositing on them thereby making them firmer and stronger. Hence, give your child the required amount of calcium by including milk and milk products like curds, cheese and paneer, leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, cauliflower, broccoli, sesame seeds, nachni, asparagus, pulses like soya beans, moong, matki, sprouts etc.
OTHER NUTRIENTS THAT AID IN THE GROWING YEARS
Vitamin C : Aids calcium absorption from foods. Maintains healthy bones, teeth and blood vessels. Promotes healing of wounds and broken bones.
Include plenty of fresh fruits like oranges, sweet lime, pineapple, guava, amla and vegetables like capsicum, cabbage, broccoli and sprouts to ensure your child gets the required amount of vitamin C.
Works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth by making it available to bone cells. Helps in bone metabolism process.
Enhances calcium absorption. Aids in strengthening of bones and teeth. Keep muscles supple. Vitamin D is found in most non-vegetarian foods. However, our body can make its own Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so ensure that your child is exposed to sunlight early in the morning.
• Helps in growth and development of bones.
Eating a well balanced diet comprising all the five food groups is enough to provide your child the necessary nutrients like phosphorous and magnesium.
FOOD FOR ENERGY
Carbohydrates, fats and protein are the three sources of energy for children. The need for energy foods is determined by a child’s rate of metabolism, rate of growth and how active he or she is. It is not unusual therefore for children of a similar age to have different energy food requirements. If children are particularly active and their energy food intake is inadequate, it can affect their growth because they don’t have enough nutrients to meet both energy and growth needs.
Carbohydrate – the energy giver
Of all the nutrients that a child should consume, carbohydrates are the most vital because:
They provide a steady supply of energy for both mind and body. They prevent the protein from being used up for energy, allowing it to be used for the major role of tissue growth and maintenance.
So which type of carbohydrates should you give you child and how much?
There are two major types of carbohydrates in foods: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates: Foods like table sugar, honey, glucose, refined sugars, milk and fruits (mangoes, chickoo, banana, etc.) are sources of simple carbohydrates (sugars). Too much intake of simple sugars is not good for kids; however sources like milk and fruits are better choices as they also contain vitamins, fibre and minerals. Complex carbohydrates: These includes starches, i.e., cereals like wheat, brown rice, oats, rice, jowar, bajra, refined flour (maida) and their products like pasta, noodles, biscuits, bread, etc. Refined flour and its products are devoid of fibre hence it is advisable to restrict its intake. Instead include more whole grains and cereals in the diet as they help curb the intake of unnecessary calories (a major cause of childhood obesity), prevent tooth decay, and help introduce children to a variety of foods. Fat – a concentrated source of energy
To meet your child’s increased calorie requirements, carbohydrates alone may not help. Fat too are needed, for the following reasons:
Fat is an important nutrient that provides ample energy, i.e., 9 kcal per gm. It helps in the absorption and utilisation of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. It insulates your child’s body from cold, and provide cushioning and protection to vital organs. It also helps to keep your child’s immune system functioning at its best.
How should I give fat to my child and does quantity matter?
Fat and oils play an important role in food preparation by enhancing food flavour, improving texture, and making the food palatable. No kid will ever say ‘no’ to food like French fries, chips, or deep fried tikkis but it is your duty as a parent to restrict this. Give your child some healthy fatty foods. Try Paneer Tikka, Hummus and Tomato Onion Raita
Along with a balanced diet, your child’s daily routine should also include plenty of play time. Even the healthiest foods can be stored as fat if your child’s day is all work and no play, turning him or her into a couch potato. Hence physical exercise helps children to be active throughout the day, improve coordination, grow tall, and eat better.
Here are 10 healthy recipes for kids.