Healthy diet plan for children is a global health concern. But malnutrition is still a burden among under-five children in Nepal. In 2016 the prevalence of under-five overweight was 1.2 per hundred. The prevalence of under-5 stunting and wasting was 36% and 9.6% respectively. As of 2015, low birth weight prevalence was 21.8% (Source).
In this era of busy schedules, it’s really hard for all parents to sit down and make homemade meals every day. Ready-made or takeout foods are a source of diet or nutrition for many children. But nobody can guarantee that these foods are healthy.
Processed foods may have a negative effect on a child’s health and overall development. As saying goes “morning shows the day”, an unhealthy diet in childhood can have a negative impact on a lifetime. An unhealthy diet in childhood can be a source of diseases for years later on.
The same principle is used for nutrition or dietary intake for children and adults. Every human of any age needs similar types of nutrients: vitamins, carbohydrates, fat, protein, and minerals. The amount of specific nutrients, however, may differ at different ages. Check out the nutrition basics for children of both sexes at various ages, based on the dietary guidelines for Nepalese.
Which foods to consider daily on diet?
-Children should be encouraged to consume fresh, frozen, or dried fruits rather than fruit juice. If children need juice then it should be free from added sugar and flavor contents.
-Consume a variety of fresh, green leafy, or dried vegetables on a daily diet. Also, it is good to have dried vegetables with lower sodium levels.
-Seafood, poultry, eggs, peas, beans, unsalted nuts, and seeds are good sources of protein. Therefore children should be encouraged to consume it daily.
-Children should choose fat-free or low-fat dairy ingredients, such as yogurt, milk, or fortified soy drinks.
Should a child’s calories be controlled?
Added sugar and saturated and trans fats should be consumed in controlled quantity. Natural sugars, however, found in fruit and milk is good for health. But, fats found in animal sources of food like red meat, poultry, and dairy products should not be consumed on the excess amount.
Feel free to contact registered dietitian if you have queries about nutrition for children.
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A balanced diet for children
Source: Essentials of food and nutrition
School Going Children
Benefits of Healthy Diet for Children
A healthy diet has a profound effect on a child’s overall health. In addition, It helps to maintain a healthy weight, avoid health hazards, sharpen the mind, and stabilize the moods. A healthy diet also plays a vital role in a child’s sense of mental and emotional well-being and protects children from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
A nutritious diet also supports healthy growth and development later into adulthood. Studies have shown that a healthy diet is the most in lowering the risk of young people’s suicidal cases. It also helps to regain health if the child is already suffering from physical or mental disorders.
Tips and tricks on encouraging healthy eating habits
Eating should be regarded as one of the means of entertainment in order to set regular healthy eating habits. For that nutritious choices need to be appealing to encourage the child to eat a healthy diet. Here are some tips to make child crave for healthy foods:
The focus should be on an overall nutritious diet not just a specific food
Children should eat more natural, minimally processed food rather than packaged and processed food.
Parents should be the role model
Instead of forcing children to eat healthy food parents should let them imitate their parents from their diet habits.
Learn to add taste to healthier foods
Mix different foods to add flavor to the food. For instance, add beef stew to vegetables, and so on.
Healthy snacks should be available at home
To keep children busy at eating a healthy diet make available plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy beverages. Consequently, this helps them to avoid unhealthy foods like chips, cookies, and soda.
Weight problems shouldn’t be ignored
Overweight is the greatest source of illness and disorders. Furthermore, overweight children are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, joint and bone problems, health problems in adulthood.
Regular exercise helps children to make healthy food choices. So, there is long term benefit of regular exercise.
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- K Gaurav, et al. (2014), Malnutrition Status Among Under-5 Children in a Hill Community of Nepal https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26333581/
- Essentials of Food and Nutrition (2012) http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/food_composition/documents/regional/Nepal_Food_Composition_table_2012.pdf