Proper nutrition during the first years of life is vital for future development

choose foods that will help them to have a healthy lifestyle

Concerned mothers frequently worry about their children’s diet.

What should our little ones be eating? What foods shouldn’t be missing from their diet? What about teen-agers? These are some of the most common questions asked by worried mothers.

They have valid reason to be concerned about their are eating, but there are certain events in your children’s life that require extra special attention. Such as their first steps, school and adolescence. Even though it might sound odd, your little children need the same nutrients as adults but of course, in smaller quantities.

Also it is fundamental to take into consideration that during your children’s first years of life is when they begin to establish their eating habits. During this stage, they begin learn to choose foods that will help them to have a healthy lifestyle.

The first years

During this time period, children are like sponges that absorb everything that surrounds them, may it be noises, smells and tastes. This is an excellent time to help them develop healthy eating habits that will benefit them leading a healthy lifestyle in the future and reducing the risks of obesity and other chronic diseases.

Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. Children need to consume enough protein to sustain growth, hormone production and enzymes needed by the body for daily functions. Fats are crucial for the essential fats needed by the body and as a source of energy. It is recommended to give young children under the age of two years old whole milk products because it is higher in calories and fats than its counterpart, skimmed milk. Lactose fats are also a source of cholesterol, which is necessary for proper development of the nervous system.

After they are two years of age, any type of milk is suitable, they can even drink milk products that are partially skimmed. Even through they have stopped being babies, they are still small children and are not prepared to have the same portion sizes as adults. A child’s portion should be 1/3 to 1/4 the size of an adult’s portion (calculate a spoonful of food for each year of age).

It is true, that it is not wise to teach a child to leave food on his plate. But even so, there is no need to worry, as your child’s appetite seems to fluctuate frequently. This is common during their first year and a half, because they are growing at a slower speed during this time period. By over feeding your child during this time period, can cause them to be obese later in their lives.

Ideally you should feed your children at the same time everyday, teaching your child that they can’t eat whenever they are hungry. This will help their stomach to know its limits. Normally, a child needs to eat five to six small meals each day.

Proteins for breakfast fill them up and carbohydrates provide energy

At school

It is recommended to provide a wide array of food choices that supply the essential nutrients and prepare them as needed, throughout the adolescent years. Parents need to be aware that children learn by observing other people, for this reason if you choose healthy food items, and then so will your children.

Children between the ages 6 and 12 years of age grow 5 centimeters each year, which means an incredible weight gain of around 5 pounds each year. Energy needed by school children varies depending on the amount of physical activity and body size; generally they will need around 1,800 to 2,000 calories daily.

Finally, regular physical activity is extremely important. The epidemic of obesity originates from leading a sedentary lifestyle, caused by passing long hours sitting in front of the television and the computer.

During adolescence

This is the second stage that your child will have the largest growing spurt of their lives, even after they have reached the age of an adult, their adolescent bodies continue developing. Growth is often related more to genes than diet, but a healthy diet allows your children to reach their maximum height. For example, adolescents need calcium to help their muscles to properly development, proteins for the muscles; lipids and fats are needed for energy and vitamins and minerals.

Thus energy and nutrients should be increased as to lay the foundation for being a healthy adult. Teenage boys between 11 to 14 years old need to consume more than 2,500 daily calories and if they are between 15 to 18 years old, then they should consume 2,800 calories daily. But as for teenage girls between the ages of 11 and 18, need to eat around 2,200 calories daily.

Since teenagers need more energy, it is vital that they eat as many different food groups as possible; the majority of the calories should come from complex carbohydrates such as breads, whole cereals and grains. Also, choose breakfast cereals that are low in sugar and high in fiber, beans such as lentils, beans, peas, and soy patties, tubular vegetables such as potatoes, yams and corn. Avoid using fats and sugar.

Generally, teenagers lack two nutrients in their diet: calcium and iron. This is often due to bad food choices or not consuming sufficient dairy products. Almost half of the bone mass is formed during the teenage years. From 9 to 18 years of age, it is recommended to eat three to four products with calcium a day. The daily recommendation of calcium is 1,300 mg (a glass of milk of 240 cc has 300 mg of calcium).

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; as it provides the energy needed to charge up the body after a long night sleeping. Many studies have proven that children who skip eating a healthy breakfast have learning problems, lower test score and are often more irritable.

For this reason, we recommend the following options:

1 to 2 years of age

  • Peach smoothie made with whole milk and served with frosted flakes
  • Whole milk sweetened with baby biscuits
  • Yogurt smoothie with banana

3 to 5 years of age

  • Whole yogurt with fruits, a piece of bread with a fat-free ham and cream cheese
  • A glass of whole milk or with chocolate and some pieces of toast with butter and caramel sauce
  • Banana smoothie with whole milk and sugar, a piece of bread or cake

School age children

  • A bowl of cereal served with yogurt and fruits, with a melted cheese sandwich
  • Chai tea with milk and sugar, toast with cream cheese and jam
  • A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with a tomato and cheese sandwich

Teenagers

  • A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, yogurt with cereals and two pieces of bread with cheese
  • A fruit salad bowl with yogurt and handful of dried nuts
  • Chai tea with milk and sugar, a piece of cake or bread with jam
  • By making healthy choices, parents can assure the best nutrition for their children, allowing them to develop and grow correctly.

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