Monday, July 23, 2012

Is Your Child Getting the Right Nutrition?

A common complaint that most parents have is that their child doesn't eat (enough). The question that then arises is whether the child is getting the right amount of nutrition that is required for growth. There are even instances of parents requesting the pediatrician to prescribe some supplements or health tonics.
Most of the times these are not required as parents just wrongly assume that their child isn't eating enough just because the portions they eat are too small. Keep in mind that they are kids and will not be able to eat as much as an adult. One way of knowing whether is to check the child's growth records. If the child is around or above the 50th percentile,then he/she is getting enough calories to grow. If at any point, the percentile keeps dropping below the 50th percentile in terms of weight and the height doesn't seem to be increasing too much over a period of time, then that may be a sign of under-nutrition.
Sometimes, just getting sufficient calories for growth is not enough-the child may be eating and drinking the wrong foods (chips,candies, cookies, soda/aerated drinks , chocolates and such) most of which which provide nothing other that empty calories.
To ensure that a child is getting adequate nutrition through his/her diet, here are some guidelines:
  •  Make sure that the child eats at least 3 meals (breakfast, lunch,dinner) and has 2-3 small snacks in between. 
  • Serve the meals and snacks at the dining table and not in front of the TV. 
  • Ensure that the child gets a helping from all the food groups at meal times:
Grains: Rice, breads, pasta, roti/chapathi, or ragi/jowar
Protein:Pulses/lentils/beans(e.g dals, mung,rajma,soy, etc) eggs, chicken, fish.
Vegetables: make sure the child eats a variety of veggies and also green leafy vegetables (palak/spinach, amaranth, collard, chard,etc). Limit using only potatoes as a vegetable.
Fruits: can be served at the end in lieu of dessert. Here again choose fresh seasonal fruits rather than canned fruits(which can be loaded with sugar).
Dairy: Yogurt/curd, skimmed milk, low-fat cheese, soy milk are also excellent sources of calcium. These can be served separate or mixed with the meal-cheese sandwich, curd/yogurt rice.
  • Serve water instead of juices with the meals.
  • Healthy snacks can also contribute to the child's nutrition. Avoid foods like cookies, pastries, jello, chips, chocolates. Fruits, cheese sticks, fruits in yogurt, fruit smoothies, mini sandwiches(with cheese, guacamole, almond/nut butter), dhoklas, mini-uttapams, mini-burritos(with cheese/scrambled eggs,pulses ) nuts and dry fruits, coin idlis, sukha bhel, popcorn(with less butter/oil), etc. Use your imagination and make the snacks more attractive when serving. A glass of skimmed milk/ soy milk or 100% fruit juice can also be served with the snacks. 
  • Make sure there is at least a gap of 2 hours between snack time and regular meal times, otherwise the child may not be hungry.
Moreover, keep the child engaged in some kind of physical activity (outdoor play, swimming, cycling, etc) for at least an hour each day. This will not only keep the child occupied instead of sitting glued to the T.V or video games, but will also increase the appetite.

1 comment:

Benefits of Almond Nuts said...

That is right watch our kids if they eat 3 times a day, and make sure they eat the healthy food, just follow the food pyramid :)