What If Your Child Falling-short of Adequate Nutrition?
Created by Archana Batra Updated on Mar 08, 2021
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 the early years is substantial in reducing risks of getting diet-related chronic disorders in later life (like type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, and etc. :) [Must Read - Small Changes That Helps Child to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle]
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.
Child Falling-short of Adequate Nutritions
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 fiber in their diets. And hence, often complain of fatigue, exhaustion, and lethargy.
How to Know Whether Child is Getting Enough Nutrients & Isn’t Overeating?
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 the 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 proteins like lentils, meat, beans, tofu, and etc. Now, protein is really important for the 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. [Know More - What to Monitor in Your Growing Child?]
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. [Read This - 5 Must-Have's In Child's Diet (Video Version)]
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’ colored foods. Fill up his/her plate with fruits and veggies of different colors. This is to get the complete range of nutrients. Research shows that different colors of natural foods have different phytochemicals, which have amazing health benefits. For instance, lycopene and flavonoids in red colored fruits and veggies are considered good for heart health and memory. [Expert's View - What Should Be Right Nutrition & Diet for Your Child?]
Foods You Don't Forget to Give Your Child
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.
| 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.
| Sep 24, 2019
Hi Farhana, here's a detailed blog that may help you- https://www.parentune.com/parent-blog/12-months-baby-weight-gain-chart/622