Nutrition at any age
Nutrition at any age
It is 6 a.m. and you are breaking the speed limit of human ability, as you quickly prepare your children's breakfast. Tears fill their plates and screams of disapproval ring throughout the house as you finally relent, giving them a snack or anything that their little hearts desire, just to leave the house on time for work and school.
Breakfast literally means breaking the fast. Typically most people fast for up to 12 hours from their last evening meal to breakfast, and hence its important to boost your energy in the morning.
But many times as parents we neglect to nourish our bodies with breakfast, tending to the needs of our children. Remember, if it is nutritionally beneficial for our children, it is beneficial for our bodies as well.
For adults and kids, eating nutrient-dense food will fuel your body to perform at its best.
Never skip breakfast, as this will motivate you and your children to snack on unhealthy processed foods high in salt and processed ingredients. It may also encourage you to overeat on your next meal, which may give rise to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity. What makes a balanced meal for a child's breakfast? Foods such as toast, crackers, milk, cereals and fruits.
But at such a developmentally important stage, it is imperative that your little ones have a balanced breakfast to kick-start their day. To guide you through, we solicited the expertise of nutritionist Annalee Gray to help us explain the important foods that should be included in a child's diet, and chef Latoya Panton to demonstrate a few healthy, appetising breakfast options.
Infants and Toddlers (Ages 0-3)
When it comes to infants, breast milk is very important and should be the primary foods children consume in their first six months.
After six months you can start introducing solids into their diet. "Infants above six months can have fruit juices, porridge and soups or purÈes - soft textured staples, animal products, legumes and vegetables," advises Gray. "At this stage, they may start to eat from the family pot, but we must avoid giving them dairy products before age one. If they must get dairy, it should be full-fat dairy."
After the age of one up to age three, children will continue on the same diet, and dairy can be introduced at this stage. Parents should still avoid giving their children nuts before age four, as it poses a health risk and children can choke on the nuts. Products that might include nuts like peanut should be introduced later, maybe after the children can speak and not before, in case they have food allergies.
Young and Middle-Aged Children (4 to 12)
From age four into their teenage years, parents should ensure that a child's diet is not filled with salt, spices, sweets or a lot of fats. This is a crucial time in a child's life where fruits and vegetables are especially important.
Keep their food colourful to entice them.
Here are a few rules when it comes to a well-portioned diet according to Gray:
1. Every main meal should have a staple and a food that is high in protein.
2. If at all possible, the vegetable food group should be included in every main meal.
3. Try to have two to four servings of fruits each day. a serving of a fruit is equivalent to one small orange, one medium naseberry, one medium guava, 3/4 cup coconut water, 1/2 large banana, 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup grapefruit juice.
4. Use fats and oils sparingly.
Chef Latoya Panton from Delicious Occasions teaches children to cook, and prepared some children-friendly breakfast options to demonstrate balanced meals for different age groups that children can enjoy and parents can prepare with minimum time.
In doing all this, remember to exercise daily. Sixty minutes each day for children and at least 30 minutes for adults.
n Annalee Gray is the market nutritionist at NestlÈ.