Children are constantly growing and developing bones, teeth, muscles, etc., so they require a greater proportion of nutrients, in relation to their weight than adults.
The energy or calorie needs are determined based on your basal metabolism (energy expenditure in resting conditions that is produced from vital functions: pumping blood, breathing, maintaining body temperature, etc.), the rhythm of growth and mainly of their activity level (very variable from one child to another)
There are certain measures that will not only help in these ages to cover their nutritional needs but also to adopt adequate dietary habits to reach a healthier future. One of them is to accustom them as soon as possible to eat all kinds of food and taste different flavors, from which it has simple mashed potatoes to the combination of flavors of a salad with fruits. Vegetables and fish have, in general, a reputation for not enjoying children’s appreciation, but when they are well combined and presented in an attractive way, they are usually better accepted; a plate of boiled spinach, without more, will not exert the same attraction as some spinach gratin and cheese, sprinkled with a little tomato sauce … Another useful measure is to explain to them what the different foods are for, promoting health as the maximum goal of all good food. Likewise, everything concerning the purchase, preparation of meals, preparation of the table, etc., can be an opportunity to learn and enjoy food.
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General Characteristics of the Diet
- The diet must be varied and balanced, to avoid nutritional deficits.
- Menus must be adapted to individual, family and economic characteristics in each case.
- In the smallest, when introducing new foods, it should be done progressively and at the beginning of each meal, when the child has more appetite. It is important to insist in this way several times until the child gets used to and becomes fond of food.
- Food should never be used as a reward or punishment, as this can lead to negative eating behaviors: whims, rejection or aversion to certain foods.
- If the child does not eat during a meal, wait until the next dose in order not to lose the rhythm of the schedules.
- Know the school menus and complete them with meals at home.
- Moderate the consumption of “empty calories” (sweets, goodies, snacks …), especially between the main meals, so that they eat what they have to eat on time.
- Keep in mind that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It must include at least one dairy and cereals (cookies, breakfast cereals, toast, simple pastries …). If you also include a fruit or its juice, even better
- At lunch or snack, you should favor the intake of snacks prepared at home, fruits and dairy products, without abusing sausages, pates and fatty cheeses.
The Structure of a Conventional Meal must Consist of
Rice, legumes, pasta, salads or vegetables with potatoes, in which it can be added to occasionally complete some meat or meat products, fish, eggs, etc. The nutritional value of this first dish is the energy contribution, mainly at the expense of complex carbohydrates. It is important to accustom children to take it because the energy needs are the first ones that must be met if it is wanted that the proteins of the foods fulfill in the organism the function of forming tissues and favoring growth.
Meat, meat products, fish or eggs. These foods should appear in moderate quantities (hunger should not be satiated with protein) They can be accompanied by a side dish of salad or vegetables or legumes (sausage with white beans, fish with peas, etc.) or potatoes (not always fried, also baked, mashed …) It is advisable to include at least 3-4 times a week fish (white and blue) and eggs, up to three times a week.
It is best to include a fruit and alternate with simple dairy products (yogurt, petit Suisse, etc.)
- Avoid excessive consumption of sugary soft drinks (cola, lemonade, orange) and other commercial drinks. Replace them with natural juices, homemade milkshakes, yogurt or fruits … Do not offer any type of alcoholic beverage even if it is low-grade as cider or beer with soda…