Wondering how to boost health in kids? Here are some tips to follow to make your kids eat healthy and correct
Do we all know the actual meaning of the word NUTRITION? It’s the process where food is being utilized by a living organism to support life, growth, tissue functioning and energy production and also is the key for overall wellbeing for all age groups and so as for school going children (6-12years). The slowed growth rate is seen among this age group, and also the body changes occur gradually. That’s why this period is known as the latent period of growth. Children of this age group should eat a variety of foods from each food group to ensure optimal intake of all nutrients.
NUTRITIONAL NEEDS FOR SCHOOL GOING CHILDREN
Nutrition plays a very critical role in maintaining the physiological functioning and cognitive development for the children as the growth rate gets slowed. The nutrients that require for optimum growth are as follows:
- Energy (Calorie): Energy requires for growth and physical activity and proper brain functioning. The sources of energy are Cereals, grains, pulses, vegetables etc.
- Protein: Protein is responsible for bodybuilding, maintaining bodily functions and repairing body tissues. One can get protein from meat, fish, poultry, milk and dairy products.
- Fat (Essential Fatty Acid): Fats provides energy and also acts as the energy reserve. Essential fatty acids aid brain development and nervous system functioning. Vegetable oil, ghee, different types of seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts are the excellent source of essential fatty acids.
- Calcium: Calcium is essential in building strong bones, and milk and dairy products and from some dark green, leafy vegetables etc one can fulfil calcium needs in kids.
- Iron: Children need iron because of rapidly expanding blood volume during growth also to prevent anaemia. Meats, fish, poultry, and dry fruits fortified bread and cereals etc.
PACKED LUNCH & SNACKS FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN
Children should have a proper tiffin or a snack which should meet 1/3 of their daily requirements of all the nutrients as they tend to spend long hours in school. We should make sure that the food has to be healthy & attractive too. Instead of junk items like – chips, burger, sugary buns, they should be offered more of more nutritious options like-
- Veg stuffed paratha with masala chaas along with a fruit.
- Veg or paneer stuffed sandwich with some trail mixtures.
- Roti wrap with veggies and boiled egg and banana.
- Veg Oats Rava chilla with veges with a mixed fruit bowl.
NUTRITIONAL PROBLEMS IN SCHOOL GOING CHILDREN
Children tend to suffer from various dietary problems due to improper & inadequate dietary intake. Some of the nutritional problems in this age group include the following:
Diets high in fats (saturated fat), simple sugars and less physical activity leads to positive energy balance resulting in obesity. Risk factors include Cardiovascular diseases, Dyslipidemia, Type- 2 DM, Gall Bladder disease, Osteoarthritis etc.
2# Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge eating is the behavioural issues that interfere with dietary intake. Children often feel pressured to be extremely thin because of peer groups, social image and most importantly, media influence. Extreme weight loss, fatigue, low immunity, general weakness, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance etc. are some risk factors associated with eating disorders.
Diet deficient in iron which is an oxygen-carrying component of blood. Impaired cognitive development, low attention rate and general fatigue.
Parents are the first role models for their children. Mostly healthy dietary habits of parents reflect in the child. Proper meal pattern and provisions of healthy snacks and meals at home can have a positive impact on children, and it establishes correct eating practices. Also, children should be encouraged to sit and eat with the family.
ADVICE FOR GOOD NUTRITION
The critical points for overall health and wellbeing are as following:
- Eat a well-balanced diet, including a variety of foods to have an adequate nutrient intake, which will help to improve cognitive performance and will prevent the consequences of malnutrition.
- Eat a proper breakfast, including a protein item that strengthens memory and attention span.
- Children should be discouraged for the intake of large amounts of sweet desserts, soft drinks, sugar-coated cereals, chips or candy, processed food items as they have little nutritional value.
- Children should be given a wide variety of healthy options to make individual food choices as per their preferences and also be encouraged in food preparation.
- Children should understand the importance of physical activity so that they can limit their screen time less than 1-2 hrs a day and focus more on physical movement.
- Lastly, children should be encouraged to practice proper hygiene and sanitation.
Always remember, “Health is the foundation of life”.
With inputs from Anurupa Bose, Senior Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospital, Bangalore, Bellandur
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