What goes wrong?
The brain reaches full development stage by the age of five. From the age of five, the child’s physical growth starts for which proper blood circulation and iron supplements are necessary.
Dr. Suvarna Pathak, Dietitian Coordinator at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital raises a concern. “Parents nowadays go easy on their children’s diets. The normal diet of children comprises processed foods like biscuits, sandwiches noodles (both refined and fried), candies and chocolates. Excess of refined foods and trans-fats in children’s diet harms their physical development at an early age. Children do not get proper vitamins and important nutritional constituents. This is also the reason there is an increase in cases of gastrointestinal problems and other gut-related issues. Children report lower count of D3 (for Bones), B3 (neuralgia), B12 (Muscles) and iron.”
The diet of children in the growing stage should chiefly comprise vitamins and minerals. Dr Pathak recommends a well-balanced diet comprising of essential nutritional components like calcium, proteins, irons and vitamins helps the body to achieve unhindered growth till the child attains puberty.
Start with a healthy breakfast
Kids these days are always on the move, right from sports training to schools and their day ends with tuition classes and training for extracurricular activities. This type of schedule definitely can drain any kid out of their energy. Dr. Geeta Dharmatti, Chief Nutrition Counsellor, GeneSupport shares the ideal food combination, which must include three food groups right up in the morning:
Essential nutrients for your kids: Dos and don’ts
A child should eat four full meals in a day. The diet should essentially comprise of fresh fruit juices, probiotic curds and vegetables in the form of juices and purees. This should be supplemented with chapatis and parathas. Emphasis should be placed on everyday consumption of sprouts and beans whose nutritional strength and immunization enhancing power has been endorsed and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Here are the essential nutrients for your kids:
Grains: Grains are an essential part of a healthy diet, that offer nutrients and energy for a child’s normal growth and development. You must include a wide variety of whole grains and/or high fiber varieties of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles and oats. You should exclude grains like refined grain (cereal) food products with high level of added sugar, fat (particularly saturated fats) and/or salt/sodium , like cakes and biscuits. Did you know breads and cereals are good sources of fiber, carbohydrate and protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals?
Fruits and Vegetables: They are rich in colored pigments, water, vitamins and minerals and are also good sources of fiber, sans high calories. A child should consume 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.
Fats and oils: They are an essential part of your kid or teen’s diet as they play an important role in development of your kid’s brain, helping them in reaching their maximum growth potential. Fat is used in our body as fuel and helps the body absorb the fat soluble vitamin A, D, E and K. Fatty foods are often associated with overweight, obesity, heart disease and stroke but eating the right fats can provide the body with health benefits. Get your oils from fish, nuts, avocados and liquid oil such as corn oil, soybean oil, olive oil and canola oil.
Milk and dairy products: They are an excellent source of Vitamin A, D, B1, B2 and B12 and minerals particularly calcium. This is especially important for children and adolescents. A good bone balance can be achieved during childhood and teenage years if borrowing from the bones is minimized and daily calcium needs are met.
Meat and Beans: Meat, poultry, fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds supply many nutrients and are important part of healthy eating. These foods are rich source of proteins. Proteins are needed for a variety of functions in your body, therefore, we it is important to include it in your diet. Meat is also a good source of Vitamin B12 and Iron. A diet rich in iron will help to prevent Iron deficiency anemia. This is common condition found in children and can result in having less energy and looking pale. The vegetarian alternatives to meat are soya, beans, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.
How much milk does your child need?
Delhi-based Dr. Debjani Banerjee, In charge Dietetics, PSRI Hospital shares the current dietary guidelines for milk or equivalent dairy products or fortified soy beverages:
Does your kid suffer from ‘Hidden Hunger’?
Ever heard of hidden hunger? Your child may be suffering from it. Ritika Samaddar, Regional Head – Dietetics, Max Healthcare in Delhi shares, “Sometimes foods may appear to be adequately nutritious and may be thought to provide sufficient carbohydrates, fats, and protein, but they may, in fact, be lacking in certain micronutrients. What we may presume is a food rich in nutrients may not be so. A diet, which may apparently seem nutritious enough may sometimes lack in important micronutrients. Children fed on these diets may therefore actually have deficiencies of vital micronutrients, and may therefore be ‘hungry’ in a certain sense. Not being apparent, this hunger is referred to as Hidden Hunger.” The most alarming bit is that this keeps children from achieving their physical and mental potential.
Diet during illness
Never starve the child during illness. Feed them energy-rich cereal-pulse diets with milk and mashed vegetables. Feed small quantities at frequent intervals. Give plenty of fluids during illness. Use oral rehydration solution to prevent dehydration during diarrhoeal episodes.
Sample meal plan
Here is a sample meal plan by Dr Ambily, Lead Nutritionist, Truweight for growing children between the age of 5 – 12 years.
Waking up: A glass of warm low fat milk
Breakfast: Vegetable egg omelet with onion, tomato, spinach, whole grain bread slices, one apple
Mid Morning: Fruit salad with strawberry flavored low-fat yoghurt
Lunch: Lean chicken- capsicum-onion -zucchini stir fry – whole grain roll, mango lassi
Evening: Spinach- mushroom-peas cutlet, a handful of almonds, fresh mixed fruit juice (Apple Guava, lime)
Dinner: Whole multigrain phulkas, dal, paneer-peas-mushroom mixed vegetable curry.
Bed time: A glass of warm low fat milk.
Caution: Dr Kashissh A Chhabriaa feels that one can do away with wheat completely from a kid’s diet. “It contains gluten which makes intestines sticky and hard to pass food through them. Many kids are today diagnosed of being gluten intolerant and it’s better to remove wheat from the diet.”