From an infant to teen, every child requires proper food and nutrition for sound growth and development. Food and nutrition not only supplement physical growth but also contribute to mental, intellectual and emotional growth.
It is important to teach a child the necessity to follow and intake a balanced diet to avoid health issues in the long run. Good eating habits are learnt during childhood. The market is full of processed and unhealthy food, and although it may seem like an easy option, it can have adverse effects on the child. Children need wholesome food that gives them all the essential nutrients and in the right quantity.
A balanced diet is a mix of Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Each of these is equally important and a lack of any can effect growth and development of a child. It is important to serve a variety of food and snacks to the child all through the growing years. Children learn from their parents and the adults around them. The first step to initiate good eating habits is to set the example yourself. If you practice good eating habits, the child will pick them up from you! Regular family meals where everyone participates and eats together form the foundation of eating practices and habits.
Fruits and Vegetables are great snacks for children! Unsweetened yogurt can be the perfect dessert! The idea is you need to identify healthy alternatives and options and provide them through the day. Sugary drinks can be replaced by homemade lemonade and fast food by whole grain bread vegetable sandwiches. Obesity and weight issues are increasing at an alarming rate among children and childhood eating habits are the main cause. Aerated drinks, chocolates and processed food must be limited to the minimum. You must ensure that your child has around 3 full meals and around 2-3 snacks through the day. This food intake must contain variety and contain all essential nutrients.
The amount of food and calorie intake increases with age but varies from child to child. Never force your child to eat too much! While children have strong likes and dislikes, make sure your child is not rejecting all things healthy. ‘Cheat days’, rewards and appreciation are great tools to encourage healthy eating habits. You could also involve your child in meal planning and preparation to make it a group activity for the family!