Is It Important to Follow Food Pyramid for Your Child?
Created by Anurima Updated on Sep 30, 2019
I often wonder as to where my child gets the energy from to run around, jump and play constantly for hours after a full day at school. I have heard the same thought being echoed by my friends who have toddlers to keep them on their feet all day. We, as parents, may run out of energy, but on the other hand, the little ones seem to have an endless supply of fuel! On the contrary, if there are days when my child is not aimlessly running around, I get worried and wonder if she is feeling well! (I am a mum what to do)
How Important Is Food Pyramid for Children?
Children are curious and inquisitive little beings and need a supply of energy to keep them going on a day-to-day basis. This energy and strength come from eating a well-balanced meal. Nutrition for children is based on the same principle as that of an adult. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fat, and protein are the nutrients required by adults and children on a daily basis. The difference, however, is that the nutritional requirements vary age to age and the amount largely depends on the child’s age. Parents and caregivers play a key role in making healthy choices for children and also teaching them the importance of eating healthy. It is not always easy to make our children eat a well-balanced diet especially when we deal with picky eaters, but knowing more about the suggested requirements and nutritional information can help figure out a way to get the essential nutrients into their diets.
What Are The Groups of Food Found in the Food Pyramid?
The food pyramid is essentially a food guide in the shape of a pyramid, which includes healthy food in different colored sections and the recommended intake for each of the groups. It is essentially a graphic guide to help us know what we should be eating every day. Following are the food groups in the food pyramid...
Grains: Grains are an integral part of our diet and provide energy, proteins, iron, and fiber. The number of proteins and energy varies with the type of grain. Whole grains are considered healthier than refined grains. They provide a combination of complex carbohydrates, water, and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Examples of healthy grain choices include whole wheat bread, roti, rice, parathas, dahlia, oat flakes, oatmeal, ragi, and dosa.
Vegetables: Vegetables provide essential nutrients such as folate, antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, all of which protect the body against diseases. A colorful mixture of vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, spinach, brinjal, and various gourds may be included in a diet.
Fruits: Fruits provides the body with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which protect the body against several diseases. Eating seasonal fruits or fruits such as apples, oranges, strawberries, grapes, pears, gooseberries, guavas are among the popular fruits with numerous health benefits.
Oils and Nuts: Oils and nuts provide the body with essential fat. Fat is a source of energy and helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Added fat such as ghee and butter may be limited to about 3 tsp per day. Nuts, oils, seeds, and fish provide with healthy fats- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are required by the body.
Milk and Milk Products: Milk and milk products are a source of calcium and other essential nutrients such as potassium, vitamin D and protein. Children and adolescents need an adequate amount of milk and milk products to maintain bone strength and density. Healthy choices of milk products include cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, lassi and the like.
Pulses, Fish and Meat: Pulses, fish and meat are a good source of protein. Fish also contains Omega 3, fatty acids, vitamins A and D, iodine and calcium, which are all essential nutrients required by the body. Pulses such as rajma, masoor dal, Bengal gram, green gram, soya beans, moth, toor dal, etc. are great source of proteins.
Why Follow Food Pyramid for Children?
In addition to ensuring that your children eat healthily, it is also essential to keep in mind that they follow a balanced diet. Encouraging your child to eat a variety of food and balancing his meals according to their physical activity and digestive capacity can do this. A growing child requires a number of servings from each of the groups in the food pyramid.
How Much is Needed for One Serving?
- 2 Slices of bread ( Approximately 60gms)
- 1 Roti (Approximately 60gms)
- 1 Cup cooked Rice, Pasta or Noodles (Approximately 150gms)
- ½ Cup or 75gms Oat Flakes or Oat Meal
- ½ Cup or 75 gms Cooked Vegetables
- 1 Potato
- 1 Cup or 150 gms of Salad Vegetables such as Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomatoes
- 1 Medium sized Apple, Banana, Pear, Guava
- 1 ½ tablespoon of Raisins, Dates
Milk and Milk Products:
- 1 Cup or 250ml Milk
- 100gm of Curd or Flavoured Yogurt
- 1 Cup or 250ml of Lassi, Buttermilk
Pulses, Fish and Meat:
- ½ Cup or 75gms of cooked Lentils such as dal, rajma, and soya beans
- 65-100 gms of cooked chicken or meat
- 8.-100 gms of fish
- 2 medium Eggs
Foods which contain excess fat, sugar and/or salt may be avoided as eating them too often may do more harm than good to a child’s health. Food such as chocolate, cookies, confectionary, soft drinks, fried and fast food do not have a place in the food pyramid as they are not needed to provide nutrients for normal growth and development. Hence, these foods may be had in moderation as an occasional snack/meal and in small amounts.
How Much Calories Does Your Child Need?
Balancing your child’s diet also involves making sure that the child gets a sufficient amount of calories. Calories are a unit of measurement used to measure the energy provided by food. The calories required by a growing child needs to be approximately proportioned from the five groups of food in the pyramid.
The amount of calorie required varies from child to child and depends on factors such as age, gender and amount of physical activity. So a child who is more active will need more calories. For example, a child who goes swimming or plays a sport on a regular basis will need more calories every day, versus a child who enjoys reading or prefers light activities. This is the reason why the requirements are suggested by providing a range of calories and a not particular number for each age group.
It is essential that a child receives good nutrition from an early age. By providing healthy meals, paying attention to portion sizes and inculcating good eating habits from a young age will ensure that your child’s immunity is strengthened; they stay healthy and gain weight appropriately.