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Food and Nutrition for Children

Updated at: Feb 04, 2013
Tips for Parent
Written by: Editorial TeamPublished at: May 17, 2011
Food and Nutrition for Children

Most children whether a toddler or a teen are fussy eaters. Nutrient requirement of child is more as compared to adults because they are growing. Adequate nutrition is needed for proper growth and development of a child. Good nutrition helps to prevent several medical problems, such as obesity, weak bones, and under-nutrition and will ensure that your child grows to his/her full potential. A growing child needs three meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks in between meals.

Nutrients Needed for school aged children

  • Carbohydrates and fats: The energy or calories for growth and physical activity are provided by carbohydrates and fats. School aged children are rapidly growing and hence have big appetites. As the growth of your child decreases his or her appetite will decrease and your children will eat less food at meals and snacks.
  • Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of the body and help to build, maintain and repairs body tissue. Food rich in protein are especially needed for rapidly growing children. Foods that are rich in protein include milk and other dairy products, pulses, poultry, fish, pork and beef. Encourage your child to eat food rich in protein daily.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals promote healthy growth and development. Iron and calcium are very important minerals for children. Growing children need calcium to form strong bones and teeth. Milk and milk products and to a lesser extent green leafy vegetables are good source of calcium. Calcium requirement cannot be met by dietary calcium intakes as children approach their teen years. They may need additional supplemental calcium.
  • Iron is an important mineral that helps to form blood and iron deficiency anemia is a common problem in children in India. Besides formation of blood iron helps in improving concentration and attention as well. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, and iron fortified cereals are good source of iron. Iron from vegetarian foods is absorbed better when served with a food rich in vitamin C.
  • Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are needed for healthy skin, good growth and development and fighting infections. Vegetables are a rich source of fiber, several vitamins (A and C) and micronutrients like magnesium, potassium. Vegetables contain antioxidants as well. Antioxidants are substance that help your child’s body to fight diseases and probably lower the risk of cancer and heart disease later in life. Foods rich in B vitamins include grain products, meat and meat substitutes and dairy products. Fruit are also rich in fiber, vitamins specially A and C, and potassium. Like vegetables most fruits contain antioxidants, the disease-fighting substances that probably lower the risk of cancer and heart disease later in life.

Healthy food choices

Children need to eat a variety of healthy food to maintain their adequate growth and development. A child aged 5 to 12 needs to eat four to five times a day (including snacks). Healthy food choices to ensure good nutrition and healthy growth are

  • Grains: At least half the grains that you eat should be whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat flour, whole cornmeal, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread.
  • Green vegetables: Green vegetables are rich source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and several micronutrients like magnesium, potassium. Eat a variety of vegetables, that includes dark green- and orange-colored vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables. Most vegetables contain antioxidants, disease-fighting substances that may lower the risk of cancer and heart disease later in life.
  • Fruits: Fruits that may be eaten include fresh, ...


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