Food is one of the most important determinants of our health, and it is even more important in the early years of life. Childhood nutrition plays a crucial role in children’s growth and development, and it is during this time that our food tastes and preferences are formed and we plan for our future health.
Nutrition should be based on daily food from the seven different groups, with daily servings appropriate for the child.
cereals and their derivatives, tubers (4 to 5 servings);
fruit (3 to 4 servings);
vegetables (3 to 4 servings);
dairy products (2 to 3 servings);
meat, fish, eggs (1.5 to 2 servings);
legumes (1 serving);
Fats and oils (1 serving).
What are the energy needs of children?
Needs vary depending on the body’s function, growth, and energy expenditure for each child.
On average, 3-year-olds should consume 1,300 calories and children 6 years old or older should consume 1,700 calories on average.
Daily meals for children
The amount of food eaten should be distributed over 5 to 6 meals per day, with an average interval of 3 hours.
It is important to eat several meals a day, for a better balance of the body. Breakfast and snacks in the morning, lunch and afternoon snacks, dinner and dinner if needed are recommended.
What should be the constitution of each meal?
The first meal of the day is considered one of the most important, as it ensures that the day begins with all the energy needed for the proper functioning of the body. Lack of food intake, especially at breakfast, is associated with children’s lack of concentration at school due to a lack of energy (glucose) used by the brain.
It should consist of a source of protein (milk, yogurt, cheese or eggs), complex carbohydrates (cereal bread, oats, unsweetened breakfast cereals), a small portion of fat (olive oil, nuts or butter, cottage cheese), fruits, a source of vitamins and minerals Fiber is important for our health.
It should consist of good protein sources and complex carbohydrates, resulting in a light meal. Yogurt, sandwiches, fruit, dried fruits, cherry tomatoes, lupine, fresh cheese, fruit, corn toast, among other options are good foods for this meal.
Start with vegetable soup.
In the plate, include vegetables/salad in half of the plate, part of the carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, or sweet potatoes) which should correspond to a quarter of the plate, part of the protein (meat, fish, eggs), and part of the legumes (beans, chickpeas, peas) ) each equals 1/8 of the plate. For dessert, you should choose a piece of fruit. The drink accompanying the meal should be water.
It is a meal that depends on the habits of the child, and it should be very light, like one glass of milk or one glass of yogurt.
Refusal to feed the child
In childhood, children begin to express their food preferences, and it is also at this stage that food refusal for foods such as vegetables, fish, meat, and fruits arises. Many parents have a hard time getting their children to accept and consume these foods, so here are some recommendations for what you can do:
encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables (strengthening vitamins and minerals for growth);
Mix vegetables with foods that the child already likes;
place the rejected food with food that was previously accepted by the child;
Build designs on the plate with the food to make the plate more attractive;
Prepare food with different desserts.
During this period of life, parents and close family members are role models that children tend to emulate. In general, when parents have healthy eating habits, so do children.
It is important to realize that formal family meals favor the adoption of healthy habits, as well as a calm and light environment, without stress, “discussions”, demands and preferably without the use of electronic equipment (TV, mobile phone, computer, tablet) at mealtime.
We know that in the industry there are hundreds of foods high in sugar and saturated fat that should be avoided but most kids consume, such as crackers, chocolates, stuffed cakes, soft drinks, and more. These foods are often eaten as snacks at school and negatively affect the nutritional education of the child and classmates, so it is important that you make good food choices for your child.
In general, you should offer healthy food to children, encourage the consumption of vegetables and fruits, and use healthy cooking methods.
Avoid processed foods that contain excess sugar and saturated fats that increase obesity and other related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease.
Overweight and obesity in children
Obesity is a major public health problem, and its multifactorial chronic requires continuous efforts to be controlled, constituting a threat to health and a major risk factor for the development and exacerbation of other diseases.
Overweight and obesity is a serious problem for children’s health now and in the future, as an obese child is more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and some types of cancer.
Some strategies to reduce excess weight in children:
Remove all products that contain sugar and excess fat from the diet
please share the article so other people can benefit from it too