Essential Nutrients For Children

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah.      .

Worried that your child is consuming too much unhealthy food and that it could be adversely affecting their health? Then, it's definitely time to take control of their diet. Cooking wholesome meals for kids lays a fantastic foundation for their long-term health. Having a nourishing diet and focusing on all the vital nutrients are pivotal ways to thwart the onset of diseases. When you give your child the right nutrition, you ensure that you keep obesity, hypertension, cardiac diseases, and diabetes mellitus at bay.

Healthy eating for kids!

Healthy food habits stay with you if you learn them as a kid. Thus, it is extremely essential that you teach your children good habits - it will help them adhere to those eating patterns even during adulthood and that will ward off a multitude of ailments and diseases.

When you carefully plan your child’s meals, taking in to account all the fundamental nutrients, you ensure the most optimal nutrition. You will also be able to gratify all their likes and dislikes and that means they will actually enjoy their meals! Additionally, it’s a good idea to have your child help you choose and buy the foods you eat. They can also help plan menus and cook meals and take some ownership for what they eat.

The good news is that you do not require a degree in nutrition to feed your kid with the right food! Follow these simple guidelines and you will be able to motivate your kids to eat right and maintain good health.

Re-write your child’s food!

You need to revamp your meals and make them child-friendly. Have a healthy mix of protein, carbs, fibre, healthy fats and vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

  • Protein: Protein is one of the most essential nutrients for children. It is the chief building block of all body tissues. Protein is indispensable and is necessary for the repair and maintenance of vital tissues and is required for the development of all the organ systems. Ensuring that your child consumes adequate amounts of protein every day is exceedingly vital. Legumes, lentils, beans, eggs and meat are excellent sources. There are many non-vegetarian and vegetarian sources of this macronutrient. Beans are chockfull of protein, fibre, magnesium, folate, iron, and potassium. 1 cup of beans promises to deliver 10 - 20 grams of protein! A diet which is loaded with pulses lays the very groundwork for a good cardiovascular system as well as acts as an excellent muscle builder. What’s more, the combination of protein and fibre keeps your child fuller for a longer duration, and ensures that he does not reach out for wafers and cookies!
  • Calcium: Sufficient amounts of milk, yogurt, paneer, and cheese ought to be a part of your child’s diet. Growing children require an abundant amount of calcium to maintain bone mass and bone strength. Dairy provides huge quantities of calcium, along with copious amounts of protein, Vitamin D and potassium – all of these are very important for good bone health. You need to persuade your child to consume milk and its products every day. Bones reach peak density at 20 - 25 years; and thus, it is important that they consume dairy regularly throughout childhood so that the bones remain strong and healthy.
  • Vitamins and minerals: It’s vital that your child gets all the critical vitamins and minerals, given that each one has a very specific and critical role to play in good health. Treat your kids to a rainbow diet of fruits and vegetables; a minimum of 6 servings per day is needed for their health quotient to sky-rocket!
  • Carbohydrates: Carbs are converted to simple sugars in the body. They travel in the bloodstream and are the chief source of energy. Children require carbohydrates to stay active and alert all day long. Give your child complex carbs. Whole grains are the best. Experiment with a range of cereals; they make for nutritious and delicious recipes. Incorporate whole wheat, brown rice, bajra, jowar and buckwheat in to your child’s diet. Also, remember, as much as possible steer clear of simple, white carbs - white bread, pasta, waffles, and highly sweetened cereal.
  • Healthy fats: Kids need the right kind of fats. Healthy fats squash hunger, pep up metabolism, and convey nutrients through the body. You should select groundnut oil, sunflower oil and rice bran oil for cooking – these are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and lauric acid – all are enormously good for your health! Decrease the consumption of butter and ghee; they have omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fats, which aren’t good for you. Keep your kids away from - wafers, crisps, cookies, biscuits, and crackers – these are crammed with trans fats which set off heart disorders and diabetes.

A good meal plan for a child should have a reliable and unfaltering lunch and dinner, supported by nutrient-packed snacks through the day, along with healthy treats. You do not have to refurbish your kid’s entire meal plan; just incorporate healthy, wholesome alternatives! Importantly, a bit of careful planning is the key and you should gradually include healthy foods until you’ve adopted a completely healthy diet.

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