The principles of nutrition are no different for adults and children. What’s elementary, applies to both children and adults. The same sort of essentials, including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fats, are required by everyone. We refer to these as nutrients. At different ages, children require varied amounts of various nutrients.
School-goers often tend to fall sick due to their constant exposure and engagement with the outside world. Even though cold and flu are common and seasonal ailments, frequent sickness in kids may be a result of weaker immunity or dietary imbalances. It is thus essential to take good care of your child’s dietary requirements, especially when they’re young.
The ideal dietary regimen for a kid’s growth and development takes into account the child’s age, level of activity, and other contributing factors. However, certain general kid-friendly dietary fundamentals based on the most recent studies are talked about in this blog. It is advised that before starting or discontinuing a food habit, you consult with a nutritionist for your child’s exact dietary requirements.
Nutrient-rich food is defined as having little to no processed sugar, salt or unhealthy fat, and is high in nutrients that help in growth and development. Kids can acquire the nutrients they require while consuming fewer calories overall and by focusing on nutrient-dense foods.
Take into account the following nutrient-dense food categories:
- Protein: A good diet should consist of seafood, eggs, meat and poultry, beans, peas, soy products and unprocessed nuts and seeds.
- Fruits: A range of fresh, canned, frozen, or dried fruits should be consumed by your youngster. Look for fruit in cans that are labelled as lite or packed in their own juice. Its low sugar content is shown by this. Remember that one plate of fruit equals 1/4 cup of dry fruit.
- Vegetables: Various fresh, canned, frozen, or dry veggies should be offered. Each week, select peas or beans together with bright vegetables. Choose frozen or canned vegetables that have lower salt content when making your selection.
- Grains: Pick entire grains like oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, brown or wild rice, brown bread or pasta, and so on.
- Dairy: Get your kid to consume dairy products with minimal or no fat, like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy beverages that have been fortified also qualify.
Make sure that you limit your child’s calorie-intake from:
- Added sugar: Sugars that occur naturally, including those in milk and fruit, are not considered added sugars. Brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, and corn sweetener are a few examples of added sugars. Check nutrition labels to stay away from extra sugar. Pick cereals with little to no added sugar. Avoid soda drinks and other beverages that have sugar added. Drink only so much juice. Make sure the juice your child eats is 100 percent juice and free of added sugars.
- Unhealthy or saturated fats: Animal products including red meat, hot dogs, chicken, butter, and other full-fat milk – based products are the main sources of saturated fats in the diet. Burgers, sandwiches, pizza, burritos, and other foods high in saturated fat are common. Ice-creams and confectioneries are two examples of common desserts that contain saturated fat. Look for ways to substitute nut oils and vegetables, which include important fatty acids and vitamin E, for saturated fats when cooking.
- Salt: The majority of kids consume too much salt on a regular basis. Salt is sometimes referred to as sodium. Sandwiches can conceal salt because they contain a lot of it due to the bread, meat, toppings, and condiments. Pizza, pasta dishes, and soups that have been processed frequently contain a lot of salt. Instead of fries and cookies, suggest munching on fruits and veggies. Examine nutrition labels and seek out items with reduced salt content.
Following are certain age-based dietary suggestions:
Children of age-group 2-4 years
Girls can consume a calorie count of 1,000 to 1,400 whereas boys can consume that of 1,000 to 1,600 depending on growth and activity level. Proteins, fruits and vegetables of 2-5 ounces, 1-1.5 cups and 1-2 cups can be consumed respectively, by both girls and boys based on their activity levels. Grains and dairy intake of 3-5 ounces and 2-2.5 cups are sufficient for both girls and boys.
Children of age-group 5-8 years
Girls can consume a calorie count of 1,200 to 1,800 whereas boys can consume that of 1,200 to 2,000 depending on growth and activity level. Proteins, fruits and vegetables of 3-5.5 ounces, 1-2 cups and 1.5-2.5 cups respectively, can be consumed by both girls and boys based on their activity levels. Grains and dairy intake of 4-6 ounces and 2.5 cups are sufficient for both girls and boys.
Children of age-group 9-13 years
Girls can consume a calorie count of 1,400 to 2,200 whereas boys can consume that of 1,600 to 2,600 depending on growth and activity level. Proteins, fruits and vegetables of 4-6 ounces, 1.5-2 cups and 1.5-3 cups respectively, can be consumed by girls and 5-6.5 ounces, 1.5-2 cups and 2-3.5 cups respectively can be consumed by boys. Grains and dairy intake of 5-8 ounces and 3 cups are sufficient for both girls and boys.
Children of age-group 14-18 years
Girls can consume a calorie count of 1,800 to 2,400 whereas boys can consume that of 2,000 to 3,200 depending on growth and activity level. Proteins, fruits and vegetables of 5-6.5 ounces, 1.5-2 cups and 2.5-3 cups respectively, can be consumed by girls and 5.5-7 ounces, 2-2.5 cups and 2.5-4 cups respectively can be consumed by boys. Grains and dairy intake of 6-8 ounces and 3 cups are sufficient for both girls and boys.