All you need to know about nutrition in kids
Nutrition In Kids: We are what we eat. Food and the way we eat them can affect our body’s metabolism in different ways. Therefore, it is important to choose what we eat.
That being said. We all love food; food can make you happy and bring people or cultures together. With the advancement of sciences and technology, the food we eat has evolved. This has raised more concerns about modern food and its nutrition aspects, especially nutrition in kids.
Nutrition in kids is a very important aspect of their growth. This is mainly because kids grow at a breathtaking rate than an average adult. So, adhering to a proper diet for children and including healthy food is of utmost importance.
- What is nutrition
- What is a balanced diet?
- Junk food – why do kids love them
- Tips to Avoid Sugar
- How to develop healthy food eating habits and ensure nutrition in kids
- Tips to Parents to help you get your family embrace nutrition
What is nutrition
Nutrition is the process of taking or eating food for it to be used for the body’s growth, repair, and metabolism. It provides cells in our body with food so that our body can function properly.
Lack proper nutrition in kids causes malnutrition. While we have always heard of some remote country or some third world country having a lot of children who suffer from malnutrition.
What you would be surprised to know is that that our own children can have malnutrition if they do not consume the right amount of nutrients that is needed for their body.
Malnutrition does not mean lack of food it means lack of proper nutrients that is needed for proper functioning of the body.
Nutrition of a body has 6 stages.
Through the 6 stages each cell of our body gets the required nutrition for its functioning.
What is a balanced diet?
A diet that consists of all the essential nutrients which are needed for the body to function properly, is known as a balanced diet.
Proper nutrition in kids equips the body with fluid, micronutrients, macronutrients, and calories.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and lean proteins are some food sources you can rely on to have proper nutrition.
Balance diet is one which has representation from all the 3 food groups namely fruits and vegetables, grains, proteins.
Like adults, kids eat 3 meals a day, and snack 2 or 3 times in a day. For a kid, just because we say it is a snack this does not mean it has to be taken less seriously then a meal.
During their growing years it is important that they get all the nutrient that they need to support their active lifestyle and their growth spurts.
Junk food – why do kids love them
Children love to play, get active, and be satisfied. This need for satisfaction is associated with the love for junk food by them.
A lot of money is being invested in the manufacture of junk food. The goal is to make them convenient to be eaten, cheap, and despite having no nutritional value, to keep them more addicting.
They consist of sugars, salt, and fat in high amounts. These can trigger the pleasure centers in the brain or satisfy the child, making the child want them more.
Junk food which is specifically made for children has attractive colors and beautifully designed packages, which adds to its “wanting more” potential.
We as parents also given in and indulge our children in their junk food request. In some cases, we suggest having junk food as form of threat to our children for good behavior. E.g. Since you scored high marks in Math lets all have Pizza today.
(We all do this. And I am no saint. The main aim of me writing this is only put a thought in your mind and spread the awareness so that next time we indulge in this. We are more aware of our own choices and how it affects our children)
Sugar and Its ill effects.
Sugar is what makes most food taste better, eating sugary foods can be rewarding, this creates an urge or a craving towards having more and more sugar.
As more people become aware of the ill effects of sugar, food industries have found new ways to market their sugary products.
In 2018, Milo, a product of Nestle was caught up in a controversy. A video made by Vishen Lakhian, calling out Milo for marketing their sugary product as “healthy” went viral.
From a simple sauce to peanut butter, sugar can be found even in the most unexpected products. Sugar is a source of many health problems in the present world.
Here are some of them
- Weight gain
- Increases risk of heart disease
- Development of acne
- Increased risk of having type 2 diabetes
- Risk of having cancer increases.
- Increased risk of having depression
- Accelerate skin aging process
- Lower energy levels
Tips to Avoid Sugar
- One of the best ways to stop your kid from consuming more sugar is stop adding sugar. This will avoid your kid get familiarized with the taste of sugar. Example: When you give a glass of milk to your kid, Give without sugar.
- Sugar is as bad for kids as it is for adults. Of late I do see a lot of health-conscious households not even purchasing a packet of sugar just to avoid the temptation of adding sugar to the food items.
- Do not give items such as chocolate as a treat or a gift to a child. This not only glorifies the item and make the child want it as a reward every single time. It also teachers the child the taste of these products and the comfort that it brings along with it. This later can develop into cravings and food addictions when your child grows big.
Tips to develop healthy food eating habits there by building nutrition in kids
Habit is a practice of a certain action that is hard to give up.
Practicing healthy food habits should be done daily until it becomes harder to give up.
Changing the environment around you will be the first task of having a healthy diet.
This can be started small, such as having a glass of water next to your bed, so you can drink it first thing in the morning. This is seen as a small and simple thing to do, but its benefits are immense.
Here are some simple healthy food eating habits you can practice one by one or all at once.
- Keep more healthy foods at your home and work. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. It is better to add healthy food to your diet rather than taking unhealthy food away. This will also guide your family to choose healthy foods.
- Eat at least one family meal together. Children imitate what they see. When you sit with your kid and eat together, they get to see what you eat and how you eat. They imitate the same. Example eating vegetable hey will not hey be such a difficult task for a kid when they see the whole family enjoy and eat it.
- Do not rush eating meals. It is not only puts the kid into strain stress and pressure but also compromises on the intake the kid has.
- Teach children to identify when they are hungry and when they are full. And when it is the right time to stop eating. This will help them to avoid overeating. Which is the primary cause for many obesity and health related issues.
- One of the main and proven technique is to eat slowly so that the brain can register when the tummy is full and signal the child to stop eating. They say it takes around 15 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach has had enough.
- Avoid the habit of eating sitting in front of a television or watching something on a laptop or a tab. while this might appear beneficial since the kid will remain quiet. If the kid’s brain is engaged and engrossed in other activity that it will not register what the kid is eating or how much. This will create a very unhealthy habits in the kid in the long run and take away valuable time the kid can otherwise spend with family.
Few more tips..
- Teach kids to have snacks separately on a plate rather than eating it from the package itself. This will help you control how much you eat.
- Do not delay your meals. Have a specific time for them. Delaying will make you hungrier and thus, you will tend to eat more than what is required. Also, when you eat on time your body clock gets adjusted to the time and they will secrete the digestive juices needed to observe all the nutrients at the right time. Plus, kids some more receptive to eat when they are hungry than when they are not. So, there will be less resistance from your kid and low drama.
- Encourage kids to drink water. Have water at reach when kids sit for food. Teach them to choose water when they have the urge to have drinks with high sugars.
Note and Tips to Parents to help you get your family embrace nutrition
Nutrition is one of those aspects of life which are not taught in school. So, every concerned parent needs to know what their children should consume.
Good nutrition is the key foundation of a healthy lifestyle. Making the right food choices for you and your family will immensely contribute to a happy and healthy family. And when you eat together as a family you will lead by example. Read our article 15 Benefits of Eating together as a Family to know more.
Serve meals to your kid in small portion size. A little of everything in the first round hey. Let them come back to you for more. This will make eating less stressful and more pleasurable for them.
You will also get to know the type of food your kid likes and once. Hey this will help you plan better for your child.
Force Feeding your child
Do not force feed your children. While as parents I understand that we want the children to get as much nutrition as possible. We sometimes land up serving big portion size and then force them to finish it.
This will only stress them out and cause food aversions. Such food aversions in the long run will become deter mental because your child. As an adult your child will subconsciously avoid choosing these healthy foods.
Stock your home with healthy snacks
Stock your house with a good range/variety of healthy snack. Keep them available and in reach of children so they can snack when they wish to. And you do not need to worry about them eating unhealthy food.
Plan Meals and Snacks in Advance
Plan all your meals and snacks well in advance. Might even suggest that you make a timetable for a week. This not only helps you in making the right list for your grocery shopping. But also, you can visualise the same.
E.g.: By looking at a week schedule all the main nutrients from the three main food group that you would be providing through your means and snacks to your kid. You can make changes to make it balanced.
This also will not put undue pressure on you to wake up every day and try to think of what to cook what is available what is not.
You can involve your family in this activity as this would get not only buy in from them but also hey make them feel responsible to eat the food that they have suggested.
Cultivate a habit of cooking healthy meals
Start cooking using a healthy recipe book. Make it a habit to prepare and show the kids different types of food. So, in time you will have a list of food you kid likes to eat and all of them will be healthy.
Involve kids in Food Preparation
Let your kid help you in preparing their meal. Kids tend to be more receptive to food that they have participated in preparing. Also, while preparing the meal it gives you an opportunity to talk to your kid about the nutrient value of that meal and how it would help them grow strong muscles.
Let Kids help you with grocery list
Get your kid to help you prepare a grocery list. Such participation will not only bring about awareness on healthy foods, but it will also teach them how to classify and pick healthy items over junk food.
Take them along with you when you go for shopping. This will make them familiarised with healthy food ingredients. This will go a long way in their life when they must do the same activity without your guidance.
Do not brand your food
By Branding food, you will be subconsciously sending a message of classification of nice to have foods and not nice to have foods.
E.g. “I will give you ice-cream if you finish your sprouts”. What you are subconsciously telling your child is that ice cream is nice to have, and sprouts are terrible.
While yes, I agree your intention is right to make sure your child eats sprouts. But ask your self will this child when it grows big pick up sprouts over ice-cream when both are at their disposal?
Video Time: An expert food pyramid for kids
Bottom line. your kids follow you. You and your life are the main guidebook that they refer to. You need to be conscious about it.
Asking your kid to eat vegetables when you have a burger will not be accepted by your child. Same goes with other things like asking your child to eat his meal when you skip it. Asking him to eat slowly when you gulp down your meal. Or when you forbid TV time during meals and you watch when you eat.
So be a role model and teach them practically the choices that they need to make and follow to have a healthy lifestyle.
Also do not forget to teach kids about nutrition. It is as important as breathing oxygen. When we teach children about nutrition, we are teaching them to make healthy choices. These healthy choices will one day turnout to be lifesavers for children.
When we built good eating habits hey in our children from a very young age yeah surely setting the children up for a strong and healthy future.
We hope this blog how to build nutrition in kids along with nutrition tips for your kid has been helpful to you. If so, show us love by sharing it with your friends and loved ones so together we can make the world a better place one step at a time.
If you have any other idea or tip to build nutrition in kids. Do share with us in your comments. This will help us to make our blog better and above all your knowledge will benefit other parents also positively.