Feeding your kids the right stuff

Is my child getting the right amount of food? Is he growing up properly? Is she taking all the necessary nutrients?
These are the general concerns of every mother. Let’s discus some points on nutrition and food nutrients….

Nutrition is to nourish the body with food so that the nutrients help various body processes to grow. The primary food nutrients are protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Water is an essential part which helps to digest food and distribute food nutrients to the different body cells. Everybody must drink at least 7-8 glasses of water everyday.
Food provides us with energy which helps us in doing physical and mental activities. It is necessary to know how much and what to eat and to establish a balanced diet for meeting the child’s nutritional and health requirements.

A well balanced diet supplies all essential nutrients and energy to the body. 20% of the total energy comes from fat, 50-60% comes from carbohydrates (cereals and tubers) and over 20% of energy comes from proteins (non-vegetarian foods, pulses and legumes). Vitamins and minerals are provided by fruit and vegetables.

A child must a variety of foods per day including grain products, vegetables, meat or alternatives, fruit and dairy products to get all required nutrients. Insufficient intake of food nutrients leads to deficiency diseases which affect the child’s growth and development.

  • Proteins and Carbohydrates: Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) occurs when there is lack of proteins and carbohydrates in the diet for a long time. This deficiency occurs mainly in children below 5 years of age. When the protein is deficient but calories / energy from carbohydrates is sufficient, the condition known as Kwashiorkor. When protein and energy are both insufficient for a prolonged period, the condition is known as marasmus.
  • Fats: When there is not enough fats in the body, fat soluble vitamins do not get used up properly, there is weight loss and a feeling of tiredness and restlessness.
  • Vitamins:
  • Vitamin A deficiency is found mainly in children and lack of Vitamin A results in the stunted growth. Deficiency of Vitamin A also leads to dryness of conjunctiva (the white portion of the eye) and subsequently night blindness sets (child cannot see in dim light).
  • Vitamin B Complex deficiency may lead to sore mouth, sore & redness of the tongue and cuts at the angles of mouth.
  • Vitamin C deficiency disorder commonly known as scurvy occurred due to low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.

An active child needs a proper balanced meal which can be provided with a three-meal pattern (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with small & health snacks at mid-morning and evening time.

Guide your child to follow regular meal timings otherwise it can affect digestion and metabolism. If a child is unable to stick to the meal timings for some cause, advice him / her to have healthy snacks (carbohydrates and proteins). Moderate snacks provide the requisite nutrients to stop the hunger pangs, ensure good heath & development and reduce excessive weight gain.
Include the following food nutrients in your child’s daily meal.

  • Carbohydrates: cereals (wheat, rice, bajra, maize), potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweets (sugar, honey and jaggery)
  • Fat: Milk, butter, ghee, groundnut oil, coconut oil, eggs, liver, meat, fried food
  • Proteins:
  • Animal sources: Meat, egg, fish, poultry, milk & milk products (cheese, curd and paneer);
  • Plant sources: All pulses, cereals, peas, soyabean, groundnuts and nuts
  • Minerals
  • Calcium: Milk and milk products (butter and ghee), green leafy vegetables (spinach, curry leaves, coriander leaves, etc.)
  • Iron: Green leafy vegetables (spinach, mint, etc.), liver, kidney, egg yolk, jaggery
  • Iodine: Sea foods (fish, prawns) and iodised salt
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin A: Vegetables, fruits, milk, cheese, eggs yolk, butter, ghee, liver, green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin B: Pulses, whole grains cereals, wheat, rice, etc.
  • Vitamin C: Fruits, leafy vegetables, potatoes, sprouted grams, guava
  • Vitamin D: Oily fish, milk, cheese, butter, ghee
  • Vitamin E: Whole pulses and cereals
  • Vitamin K: Green leafy vegetables


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