BEYOND JUST A MEAL - IMPORTANCE OF NUTRITIOUS FOOD DIET IN CHILDREN

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“I don’t like this food”, “I hate vegetables”, ‘I need something fried”, “Let’s order something from outside- a taco, a pizza, or fried chicken”…….and the list goes on. No matter which age group the child belongs to I am sure these are the regular statements parents these days have to confront and deal with every day. Parents keep dodging between the responsibility of keeping their child’s eating habits healthy and making the eating experience interesting for them. As a result it becomes a lot more challenging to provide a nutritious as well as a tasty diet to children especially toddlers who are little above than their counterparts in being fussy about eating.

     End of the day, whether they are fussy or not, whether they like it or not, It is our responsibility to ensure that children get the right nutrition at the right age as it plays a very crucial role in their growth and development. Also it is important to ensure that the child gets a balanced diet, most of us directly relate love and care to feeding and hence end up over feeding the child which may result in childhood obesity. A correct diet containing essential nutrients at the correct age benefits the child mentally and physically. Here are few suggestions for a healthy diet agewise.

INFANTS:
     During this stage of life, it's almost all about the milk — whether it's breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Breast milk or formula will provide practically every nutrient a baby needs for the first year of life. At about six months most babies are ready to start solid foods like iron-fortified infant cereal and strained fruits, vegetables, and pureed meats. Because breast milk may not provide enough iron and zinc when babies are around six to nine months, fortified cereals and meats can help breastfed babies in particular.

TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS:
     Toddlers and preschoolers grow in spurts and their appetites come and go in spurts, so they may eat a whole lot one day and then hardly anything the next. It's normal, and as long as you offer them a healthy selection, they will get what they need.

SCHOOL CHILDREN:
     This is a time when kids first go to school and have a little bit more choices in what they eat, especially if they're using the school canteen. Cakes, candy, chips, and other snacks might become lunchtime favorites. The body needs carbohydrates (sugars), fats, and sodium, but should be eaten in moderation, as too much can lead to unneeded weight gain and other health problems. Packing your child's lunch or going over the lunch menu and encouraging him or her to select healthier choices can help keep things on track.

PRETEENS & TEENS
     As puberty kicks in, young people need more calories to support the many changes they will experience. Unfortunately, for some, those extra calories come from fast food or "junk" foods with little nutritional value. Some adolescents go the opposite way and restrict calories, fats, or carbs. Adolescence is the time kids start to become conscious of their weight and body image, which, for some, can lead to eating disorders or other unhealthy behaviors. Parents should be aware of changes in their child's eating patterns and make family dinners a priority at least once or twice a week and if possible daily.

Although getting your child to eat healthy — regardless of his or her age — can be a constant battle, its one well worth fighting. A healthy child becomes a healthy adult, and only with your support and guidance will your child be both.

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