Children grow at an astonishing rate and it is necessary that they eat right to fuel this growth and development. Find out if your children are getting the right balance of calories and nutrients for their growing bodies?
When children eat right, they will always be energised for school, play and family time. Nutritious food, along with regular exercise helps nourish strong bodies and smart brains. It is important for children to eat a variety of foods from every food group, as per the table below, to ensure optimal intake of all vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.
Number of Servings for Kids Aged 6 -12
|Food Group||Number of Servings*|
|Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta||6-9|
|Milk, yogurt, and cheese||2-3|
|Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts||2-3 (about 5to 6 ounces)|
*Children may prefer smaller servings. Giving several smaller portions can still add up to the total recommended number of servings for the day.
Here’s what you as a parent can do to ensure growing kids receive their share of nutrition throughout the day:
Kids’ Nutrition Trivia :
Nearly one in every five children aged 6-19 in the U.S. is overweight.
If children are obese they increase their chances of being obese adults
A recent survey states that eating dinner as a family helps kids in many ways- it helps them get better grades and keeps them away from cigarettes and alcohol.
One must keep in mind that the time gap between the child’s last meal (i.e) dinner and breakfast is almost, over 10-12 hours. Hence, the child is bound to be hungry and low on energy. The breakfast should include food items that will provide the child sufficient energy to remain active till lunch break. An ideal breakfast is one which is rich in both fibre and protein.
Shakes or smoothies with milk and fruits; whole wheat bread or muffins; cereals with nuts, hard boiled eggs; fresh fruits; yogurt; sandwiches of whole wheat-bread and a lean, protein-rich filling, such as turkey chicken, tuna, egg, cheese, or peanut are some food items that one can select for providing a nutritious breakfast.
Since most kids happen to have their lunch in school, you really can’t be sure whether they are actually eating their lunch or happily giving it away to others or, even throwing it away. Hence, try and pack something for lunch that is fun to eat, as well as nutritious. Lunch should include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Fried foods should be avoided whenever possible.
Fruits are good, but tossing away apples and oranges are easy too. Make fruits more appealing by preparing a fruit cock tail and garnish it with yogurt, apple sauce, pop corns or crunchy cereals. Make healthy sandwiches and cut them in interesting shapes using cookie cutters, to make them look interesting to children. If your child enjoys peanut butter, you can add dates, nuts, raisins, bacon bits, apple sauce or even crushed pineapple to peanut butter and pack it for lunch.
After school snacks
Children generally come home feeling very hungry after school and this is a good opportunity to get them to eat nutritious food from different food groups. Some ideas that parents can try are:
• Cereals topped with fruit, nuts and milk
• Cheese and crackers
• Fruit yogurt
• Bowl of fresh fruits
• Milk shakes or fruit smoothies
• Cut-up vegetables dipped in low-fat ranch salad dressing
• Coconut shavings,
• Dates, sunflower seeds, breakfast bars,
• Banana chips
Dinner time should be family bonding time. This time should be used to re-connect with the child and to listen to the events of the day. Offer healthy choices for dinner whether it be fish, poultry, vegetables or pulses. Let the children serve themselves, but ensure they taste all that’s been prepared. You could discuss the dinner menu in advance with the children and even at time let the children help you prepare and serve it. Younger children tend to eat better when they help with simple meal preparation tasks like setting the table or stirring a sauce.
Serving healthy meals however, is not enough to instil healthy eating habits in kids. The benefits of eating healthy must be explained to them. When kids and teens learn about proper nutrition early in their lives, they tend to form healthy habits that last till later in life. Parents too should avoid consuming and even bringing in junk food like chips, sugary sodas and candy in the house. When eating out, children should be encouraged to make healthy decisions with their food choices.