Health and Wellness

Is your child falling short of adequate Nutrition? Know what to do...

Archana Batra
All age groups

Created by Archana Batra
Updated on Feb 07, 2018

Is your child falling short of adequate Nutrition Know what to do

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is significant for everyone but more so for children, especially during their formative years. A child needs a nutritious diet - for steady growth in weight and height, to improve cognitive powers (and hence school performance) and prevent illnesses. Not only this, having a healthy diet in early years is substantial in reducing risks of getting diet-related chronic disorders in later life (like type 2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia, and etc.).

It’s very upsetting to know that at present, our country is dealing with two extremes in terms of growth and nutrition – at one end we are facing Malnutrition and on the other, Obesity. The prevalence of underweight children (under 5 years of age) in India is among the highest in the world. And at the same time, the proportion of obese children is constantly increasing.  It has been estimated that worldwide over 22 million children under the age of 5 are obese, and one in 10 children is overweight.

With rapid urbanization, increased production and marketing of processed and packaged foods, children today, are consuming more ready-to-eat and processed foods, which are high in energy, fats, free sugars or salt/sodium, and are also known as empty foods (as they don’t really provide any nutritional value). Children today aren’t eating enough fruits, vegetables and dietary fibre in their diets. And hence, often complain of fatigue, exhaustion and lethargy.
 

How to know whether your child is getting enough nutrients & isn’t overeating too?

 

If your child is suffering from fatigue or low energy levels, falls sick frequently or having poor growth or is overweight, you probably need to have a look at her/his diet. Firstly, check growth chart and see if his/her growth is up to the mark and then try complying with ‘My Plate’. As per this USDA, my plate concept – half of the plate of a child should comprise of fruits and vegetables. This ensures that the child is getting almost all the essential vitamins and minerals, especially Iron, Vitamin C, A and Calcium, which are of utmost importance in a child’s  diet. Then a little more than a quarter is healthy grains like whole wheat, rice, and millets like ragi. And another quarter comprises of proteins like lentils, meat, beans, tofu, and etc. Now, protein is really important for growth and maintenance of tissues. Additionally, there is a side serving of dairy, which ensures that your child isn’t missing on Calcium - a mineral necessary to build healthy bones and teeth.

Eating adequate amounts of fat is also an important part of a healthy diet. But it's true that many kids today eat too much fat, which might lead to unwanted weight gain. So, it’s essential to serve foods that are naturally low in fat, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and  fish,  and  lastly,  low-fat dairy  products.  However,  drinking  plenty  of  water  is  also  an important component of a healthy diet.

So,  make  sure  your  child  is  getting  a  variety  of  nutritious  foods  from  the  5  food  groups mentioned above - Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins and Dairy.

Now, always focus on feeding your child ‘Rainbow’ coloured foods. Fill up his/her plate with fruits and veggies of different colours. This is to get the complete range of nutrients. Research shows that different colours of natural foods have different phytochemicals, which have amazing health benefits. For instance, lycopene and flavonoids in red coloured fruits and veggies are considered good for heart health and memory.

While talking about foods that help maintain energy levels, let’s not forget about the foods that need to be limited (most of which have empty calories). These are –

 

•    Processed and packaged foods like chips and biscuits

•    Fried and fatty foods like samosas and patty

•    Sweet beverages like cold drinks and packaged juices

•    Sweets like chocolates and candies

 

Being a mother myself, I know feeding a young child can be a challenging experience at times, especially if you are dealing with a pre-schooler. They often have small appetites and very definite likes and dislikes; so, occasionally it becomes really important to include a health drink that can compensate for the lack of nutrients.   Today, we have health drinks available in the market  -  having  good  quality proteins,  essential  vitamins  and  minerals  like  Calcium,  Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc. These help children not only catch up on lost height and weight but also improves energy levels and immunity. However, it’s advisable to have these health drinks in addition to the meals and not as a meal substitute. So, having it in between meals to prevent snacking on junk/non-nutritious foods is a good idea. You could also give this to your child at night before going to bed. It is a good practice.
 

I hope this article will help you make small changes in your child’s  diet to improve his/her energy levels.

 

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author who is a nutritionist and intended as an educational aid.

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| Jun 27, 2018

Can u please tell me which health drink in the market provides Calcium,  Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc. do u really think they provide all these which u have mentioned and but how much?

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| Jun 26, 2018

nice n informative

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| Jun 26, 2018

nice information

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| Feb 16, 2018

Thanks for sharing such an informative blog!

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| Feb 13, 2018

Pehu , there is no ideal / recommended chocolate intake for kids as such.. having chocolates as occasional treats is fine for kids.. but excessive intake of chocolates is not good. To reduce the consumption of chocolates, you can start serving your kid - homemade healthy nutrition bars with cocoa powder or few chocolate chips as one of the ingredient... or can try chocolate shakes and other recipes which have cocoa as an ingredient.

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| Feb 09, 2018

Nice blog very useful in day to day life

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| Feb 08, 2018

the two extremes are really dangerous and could cause health concerns later in life. so it's important to have a balanced diet rich in all nutrients rather than one which is concentrated in one or two. very useful info.

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| Feb 08, 2018

packed foods to be avoided too fresh cooked home food is better than anything else.

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| Feb 08, 2018

What should be the ideal amount of chocolates can we give to our children upto the age of 4 my child always wants it.. so I want to know when to stop

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| Feb 08, 2018

goodblog archana jee

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| Feb 08, 2018

I still feel children from this stage should avoid eating oily stuffs.. its better to give them ghee rather than refined cooked food

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| Feb 08, 2018

Very informative blog! Thank you!

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