If you know me, you would know that I love food and I love to cook. Especially for the ones I love. Normally I only cook for adults or myself. But now that I am living in an apartment in SXM. I sometimes I wonder… how do parents choose what they want their kids to eat? what serving sizes? what ingredients? at what times? I have so many questions!
I decided to do some research. First out of curiosity and second, because, well, eventually I have to take care of my own kids. And obviously, because I love writing about the things that I learn and share the newly learned information with you.
First, lets talk about serving sizes. How much food should you serve to your kid?
Most adults pay attention to the serving sizes in the food labels. Those are based on a 2,000-calorie diet. The benefits of having a proper diet are preventing some conditions like diabetes and obesity. However, the serving size for an adult might not always be a good serving size for a kid. For a children we should consider the following table:
Table 1. Serving sizes for different food groups in a child’s diet.
We also need to consider the child’s development, appetite, physical activity, any medical condition etc.*
What kinds of food should their plate contain?
- Half plate full of fruit and vegetables
- Good sources of protein like eggs or nuts
- Steamed foods
The benefits of these kinds of food include preventing the development of osteoporosis, fractures later in life, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, among others.
So, what strategies could we use to help our children eat better and grow stronger?
- Make the food look fun, pretty, or creative
- Carry healthy snacks with you so they can eat healthy even in a hurry
- Set an example for the kids by eating nutritious/healthy foods in front of them
Children are really good at following examples so why not give them a good one 😊
How do you build a healthy eating pattern with your children?
- Do not use food to punish or reward your child
- Try not to feed meals or snacks while watching TV
- Involve your children in food/grocery shopping
- Involve your children in the preparation of meals
- Teach your children to eat slowly
All these habits will help the child develop a healthy balanced relationship with food.
What kind of things should we limit in our kid’s foods?
- Added sugar
- Added salt in chips
- Processed and prepared foods
- Among other products
All these products are harmful to the growth of children and increase the risks of developing diseases which include excess weight gain that may lead to obesity and diabetes.
How does the diet affect the development of children?
Having a balanced diet helps with the growth of strong bones, prevention of cardiovascular disease, helps control glucose levels in the blood, avoids some deficiencies, and maintains a healthy relationship with food throughout life. Bad nutrition habits could cause problems with a child’s intellectual development. Poor nutrition can make a child more prone to get sick and feel tired.
Well, I do not know about you, but I feel a lot more confident about my knowledge of children’s nutrition. Obviously, we will encounter some special cases like children with Type-1 Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Anemia, among others, but, in those cases, my responsibility as a doctor-in-training is to tell to ask your physician or a professional for information. 😊
Publishing, H. (n.d.). Nutrition for children. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/nutrition-for-children
Portions and serving sizes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Portions-and-Serving-Sizes.aspx
Peri, C. (2014, April 03). Parent tips to help your child eat better, move more, live healthier. Retrieved February 04, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/tips-to-help-your-child-eat-better#1
Kids and their bones: A guide for parents. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/juvenile
Normal growth and DEVELOPMENT: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002456.htm#:~:text=Between%20ages%201%20and%202,between%20ages%209%20to%2015.