Don’t Miss These 5 Nutrients from Your Child’s Diet

Don’t Miss These 5 Nutrients from Your Child’s Diet
W

e all know that nutrients are a basic human need and a pre-requisite for a healthy life. Children, of all people, require a good dose of nutrients to help them grow well. With so many nutrients that need to be part of the diet, it is a constant battle to 

  • Plan a balanced meal
  • Create an interesting meal out of the available resources and
  • Get the children to eat.

    The idea of getting children to eat something that they do not like brings about a sense of despair that no parent wants to feel. But then, "how do we get the children to consume the required nutrients” and “how much is enough” is the constant questions plaguing the mind. In this article, we will discuss the 5 nutrients that are important for a child’s healthy growth and their doses, as recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and a few tips to help you plan your daily meal.

    • Proteins- As the building blocks of life, proteins are a must in your everyday menu. Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues, to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. 

    Chickpeas(chana), kidney beans(rajma), cottage cheese(paneer), milk, curd, lentils(dal-all varieties) are some rich sources of protein. Every Indian household menu of items includes roti, rice, dal of some kind, curry, and sweets made with milk and as such we can find a wholesome meal with a good dose of proteins readily available.  

    The daily recommended allowance of proteins varies from age, gender, and weight. Given below is a table that contains the gender, age group, and the protein requirement per day. 

     

    Group

    Age

    Proteins (grams per day)

     

    Children

    1-3 years

    4-6 years

    7-9 years

    16.7

    20.1

    29.5

    Boys

    10-12 years

    39.9

    Girls

    10-12 years

    40.4

    Boys

    13-15 years

    54.3

    Girls

    13-15 years

    51.9

    Boys

    16-17 years

    61.5

    Girls

    16-17 years

    55.5

     Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian Children - 2010, Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) 

    • Carbohydrates- One of the most important sources of energy is carbohydrates. They help the body to use fat and protein for building and repairing tissue. Sugar, starch, and fiber are some forms of carbs, of which excess sugar intake is better avoided.Rice(especially brown), yams, beans and lentils, pumpkin, whole-wheat pasta, and bread, and potatoes are some high carb food sources. There are many fruits too that are rich in carbs - apples, bananas, grapes, and mango.  

      The daily recommended allowance of carbohydrate is given below.

       

      Group

      Age

      Carbs (kcal/day)

       

      Children

      1-3 years

      4-6 years

      7-9 years

      1060

      1350

      1690

      Boys

      10-12 years

      2190

      Girls

      10-12 years

      2010

      Boys

      13-15 years

      2750

      Girls

      13-15 years

      2330

      Boys

      16-17 years

      3020

      Girls

      16-17 years

      2440

       Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian Children - 2010, Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) 

      • Fat- At a time when everyone is staying away from “fats” and “fatty food”, it might come as a surprise that fat is one of the essential nutrients required by the body for energy production. As such, the right amount of fat in the body does keep you going. Kids, on the other hand, need their fat to help them stay active.

      Whole milk and its products, peanuts, clarified butter (ghee), cashew nuts are some examples of fat-rich food that can benefit children. Do include ghee in your daily diet, as its a powerhouse for the essential fat-soluble vitamins(vitamin A, D, E, and K).  

      The daily recommended allowance of fat is given below.

       

      Group

      Age

      Fat (grams / day)

       

      Children

      1-3 years

      4-6 years

      7-9 years

      17

      25

      30

      Boys

      10-12 years

      35

      Girls

      10-12 years

      35

      Boys

      13-15 years

      45

      Girls

      13-15 years

      40

      Boys

      16-17 years

      50

      Girls

      16-17 years

      35

       Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian Children - 2010, Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) 

      • Calcium- Here comes the nutrient that helps build strong bones and teeth and also aids in the proper functioning of the muscles and heart. Whole milk and its products are high in calcium and can be easily absorbed in the body. Some kids might not too very happy to drink a glass of milk or eat paneer in a gravy. You could try making it into a snack like a vegetable burger (with paneer) or a fruity milkshake to help them gulp down faster.  

        The daily recommended allowance of calcium is given below.

         

        Group

        Age

        Calcium (mg / day)

         

        Children

        1-3 years

        4-6 years

        7-9 years

         

        600

        Children

        10-17 years

        800

         Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indian Children - 2010, Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) 

        • Fiber- Fibre helps produce bowel regularity in a child. The National Institute of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases recommends children between 1-8 years old should consume between 14 to 31 grams of fiber a day. Apple(with skin), popcorn, banana, sweet potato, corn are some fiber-rich food, that every child would love to have. The easiest way to calculating fiber intake is - take your child’s current age and add 5 to it, giving you the total fiber intake per day (in grams) 2

          The above 5 nutrients are just as important as the vitamins and minerals that need to be part of the diet daily. It can also be seen that pleasing children and getting them to eat “healthy food” is not easy. You can, however, bring in a variety to the menu and it would be an invitation that no child would back away from. 

          Here are some suggestions that I hope will help you in bringing a positive food change in your child.  

           

          • Give your kids the breakfast they like- Pasta (load them with vegetables), parathas (stuffed or plain), sandwich, cereal ( load them with fruits they like - bananas, almonds, strawberry, sapota) or just a nice milkshake to help them through the first half of the day. Not only will the child get the required nutrients, but it will also keep them happy and eager to try out new food. Creativity will be your partner in this endeavor. 
          • Keep a dry-fruit laddoo in hand- If nothing works, give your child a dry-fruit laddoo that is filled with tons of nutrition and rich in fiber. This will fulfill the energy requirements for the day and you can be assured that your child will stay healthy. 
          • Say Yes” to junk- Contrary to the advice given by doctors and nutritionists, say “yes” to junk. We cannot ignore or get rid of junk food from our life. We need to be able to reduce the percentage of junk being a part of our daily regime. This can only be done slowly, as stopping them suddenly will only make them more attractive and tempting. Occasional junk food is a definite “yes”. 
          • Get creative with food- Making food for the family is always a joyous experience and one should whole-heartedly embrace it. Come up with new ways to serve the usual rice, roti, and dal. For example, leftover dal can be converted to “dal-paratha” and cut into circles and triangles to serve the kids. 
          • Dessert is a wonderful part of the meal- Every child likes something sweet - chocolates, rice pudding (kheer), cookies with ice-cream. It could be anything. Don’t fret while giving them the dessert - be it pre-dinner or post-dinner. In Indian households, desserts/sweets may not be part of the daily routine, but try to keep them available twice a week. 

            Don’t constantly worry about getting the right nutrients into the body. It is a slow process, in which you will excel soon. Having a positive mind towards creating a healthy lifestyle is in itself a big achievement and the rest will fall into their respective places soon enough. Happy thoughts and healthy living. 

            https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation-children/eating-diet-nutrition
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7494674

             

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