Children need to consume nutrition-packed food in order to boost their immunity during lockdown. Here are expert tips.
There are a variety of factors that might be influencing your child’s nutrition intake in times of pandemic including non-availability of certain vegetables and fruits due to lockdown restrictions, increased intake of junk food, and no outdoor activities. But the truth is your child needs essential vitamins and minerals for their physical and mental development. The deficiency of these nutrients could lead to many diseases in children in both short term and long term. On a brighter side, families are making home-cooked meals more than ever before and that gives us an opportunity to make food interesting as well as nutritious.
It is important to pay attention to your child’s dietary intake more than ever before as the ongoing pandemic has resulted in decreased physical activity and due to their sedentary routine, kids are at risk of developing many chronic diseases later in their life. Sitting at home and munching on sugary and salty snacks are not helping them and many of these kids might suffer from obesity related problems soon.
What Should A Child Eat In Pandemic Times?
The best way to design a nutrition-packed diet for children would be to include lots of seasonal vegetables and fruits (whichever are available), whole grains, grains low in saturated sugar and low trans fat, dairy products, eggs, lean meat, beans, peas, soy products, and nuts etc.
At a time when children are spending a lot of time online attending classes and surfing in general, it is important for them to eat foods and drinks that support brain functions and concentration. Food rich in antioxidants, probiotics, proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B12 must form part of a child’s daily diet. Our traditional herbs are also found to be very useful to boost energy, cognitive health and immunity.
Why Kids Need Vitamins And Minerals
A child's body needs vitamins and minerals for overall development and boosting immunity. Vitamins and minerals are important to keep infections at bay and our nerves healthy. There are 13 essential vitamins — vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate). Some minerals like iodine and fluoride, are needed in small quantities while calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are needed in larger quantities and are found in various foods. Eating a balanced diet ideally takes care of our body's requirement of vitamins and minerals.
Top Foods To Increase Immunity In Children
Children’s growing bodies need many types of nutrients. Rajat Jain, Dietitian, Weight Loss Expert, Clinical & Sports Nutrition Specialist and a Certified Diabetes & Wellness Educator suggests six foods that are beneficial for kids:
- Whole Grains: It is a good idea to replace refined grains with whole grains as they are full of fiber, iron, nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. Whole grain foods also aid digestion and metabolism. The nutrients in whole grain foods keep our hearts healthy, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer. One can include barley, brown rice, oats, popcorn etc in their child’s diet for avoiding health issues.
- Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein. Egg yolks are especially good for children as they are packed with choline that helps in memory development.
- Peanut Butter: One has to make diet a little interesting for the kids and peanut butter is the perfect way to that being kid-friendly. It is a nutritious food if consumed in moderation. Most kids love peanut butter. It is versatile and can go with many types of foods, such as apples, celery, crackers and bread. Peanut butter is high in fat, but it is a monounsaturated fat that is considered good for heart health. Also, eating a couple of tablespoons as part of a meal or snack provides protein, an essential nutrient for growing kids.
- Beans: Beans are a super food in many aspects as they have the power of protein and complex carbs and fiber plus lots of vitamins and minerals. These are an excellent brain food since they keep a child's energy and concentration levels at peak all afternoon if they enjoy them with lunch.
- Colourful Fruits and Veggies: Colors and children go well together. So why not give them a lot of colourful fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. These nutrients promote good health and also protect against diseases, in both short term and long term. They are good for strengthening a child’s immune system and help them fight illnesses.
- Milk and Dairy Products: Dairy foods are packed with protein and B-vitamins, essential for growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. Milk and yogurt also provide a bigger punch with both protein and carbohydrates – the preferred source of energy for the brain.
Transforming The Food Habits
Apart from a good diet, parents should take care about other factors that might be affecting their health. The child should stay hydrated during the day and can have water, coconut water, and other such healthy drinks for hydration. Considering children also eat out of boredom, they should be discouraged to eat packaged food. One must store healthy and home-made snacks for children with less sugar and salt in them. Last but not the least, physical activity of one hours must be ensured for the child at all costs.
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