Making your child eat and, eat healthy, at most times, seems like an unenviable chore. And nutrition for your child, whether a toddler, a tween or a teenager, is something you need to give much importance to.
Nutritionist Dr Sunita Dube says that parents can instill healthy eating habits in their kids, without turning meal times into a battle zone. “By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your child’s lifelong relationship with food. Good nutrition begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilise children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Unfortunately, kids are bombarded by messages that can counteract your efforts. Between peer pressure and constant commercials for junk foods, getting children to eat well might seem more futile than fruitful.”
According to clinical nutritionist Dr Nupur Krishnan, a child needs a balanced and adequate diet to supply nutrients and energy needed for growth. Although children’s food consumption is highly variable from meal to meal, their daily energy consumption is relatively constant because they adjust it at meals.
– A child requires more calories per kilogram body weight than an adult because metabolism is highest during infancy, and steadily declines throughout life except for a small rise during adolescence.
– The physical activity of the child far exceeds that of an adult.
“A child requires more protein than an adult not only for tissue repair but also for growth. About 14 to 15 per cent of calories should be protein. The main sources of protein are milk and milk products (curd, paneer, lassi, shrikhand), meat, fish, eggs, nuts, cereals and pulses. The amount of food a child needs varies according to height, build, gender and activity levels. Most children usually eat the amount of food that’s right for them, however, it is up to parents to make sure their children have the right food available to choose from,” says Dr Krishnan.
Nutrition in teens
Dietician and nutritionist Vaishali Marathe says that adolescence is accompanied with accelerated physical, biochemical and emotional development. “In this growth spurt time, kids gain about 20 per cent of adult height and 50 per cent of adult weight. Since growth is so rapid, requirements for all nutrients increase. There are increased demands for energy, proteins, minerals and vitamins,” she says.
Calcium: Milk and milk product, sprouts, nachni, bajra, jowar, black gram dal, til seeds, groundnut chikki, almonds, soyabean, methi, beetroot, salmon (ravas), rohu, mackerel (mangada), prawns.
Iron: Gardencress seeds (halim), rice flakes, dried dates, pumpkin seeds, figs, raisins, soyabean, spinach, cauliflower leaves, broccoli, red meat, egg-yolk.
Vitamin C: Broccoli, capsicum, cauliflower, strawberries, lemons, mustard and turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, papaya, cabbage, spinach, kiwifruit, snow peas, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, raspberries, asparagus, celery, pineapples, lettuce, watermelon and parsley.
Vitamin A: Dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits, broccoli spinach, turnip greens, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and apricots, milk, butter, cheese, and whole eggs.
Develope healthy eating habits
– Have regular family meals.
– Cook more meals at home.
– Get kids involved. Children enjoy selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. You can teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and how to read food labels.
– Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.
Dealing with picky eaters
– Offer a new food only when your child is hungry and rested.
– Present only one new food at a time.
– Serve new foods with favourite foods to increase acceptance.
– Eat the new food yourself – children love to imitate. Have your child help prepare foods. Often they will be more willing to try something when they help make it.
– Limit beverages. Picky eaters often fill up on liquids instead. Limit snacks to two per day.