Listen to this article
When describing children, you are most probably to use terms such as naughty, energetic, and fearless among many others. While it is their nature to be exuberant, good nutrition can help provide them with a solid boost of energy! Not just that, what children eat today can tell you a lot about their future health.
But nutrition can be a double-edged sword, as both under or over nutrition can be particularly bad for a child’s growth and development. There is a worrying trend of Indian children consuming fat-laden fast foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages such as fruit juices, and carbonated drinks among others. These foods and drinks provide empty calories and increase the risk among kids to become overweight and obese, or to develop dental issues and allergies.
As per a survey by Centre for Science and Environment, 1/4th of the pre-school children eat ultra-processed food high in fat, salt, or sugar. These foods include pizza, burgers, soft drinks, and potato chips.
In fact, so grave is the problem that the Indian Academy of Pediatrics has coined an acronym for such unhealthy foods. It is called JUNCS:
J: Junk foods
U: Ultra-processed foods
N: Nutritionally inappropriate foods
C: Caffeinated/coloured/carbonated foods/beverages
S: Sugar-sweetened beverages
As parents, the secret is to serve delicious yet nutrient-rich foods and beverages, for every meal they consume. These foods should be low on fat and sugars. When a child’s tummy is filled up with the right kind of meals, there will be less room for eating nutritionally poor foods such as candy, desserts, and french fries. A balanced diet will help you nourish your child.
A balanced diet provides quality nutrients by including different foods in adequate quantities. By providing your child with a balanced diet, you are ensuring they get all the essential nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates.
Nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D are important to fuel the rapid increase in bone strength and growth in pre-schoolers. Iron and omega-3 fats are needed for brain development, minerals like zinc and selenium are needed for immune system development. A balanced diet can easily provide all the growth nutrients, protecting your child from malnutrition, and various lifestyle diseases in the future.
Parents know about the importance of a balanced diet but could face difficulties in putting it to practice. Here are a few tips on how a balanced diet should look on your preschooler’s plate:
Kids being kids, would ask for sugary treats and drinks. These foods should not be made a regular feature of their diet.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers require higher nutrients than adults to help with growth and development. But getting nutrients for toddlers and pre-schoolers is no cakewalk. Firstly, getting your pre-schooler to eat everything that is served to them can be difficult, as picky eating is very common. Secondly, even if you serve the most nutritious dishes and your child eats them gladly, there is no way to ensure that the nutrients are getting absorbed.
It then becomes important to pair nutrients to maximize absorption.
Adding prebiotics has been shown to improve absorption. Prebiotics are naturally found in bananas, onions, beets, and garlic.
It is important to have a consultation to understand if your child needs supplementation. The diet should suit your child’s health goals.
So, we understand that kids should be kids, and that’s why they should play hard, work hard, and eat healthy! Remember the foundation for the future is set in childhood.