Children need to enrich their bodies in order to grow properly and develop healthily. During childhood and adolescence nutrition is one of the most important and influential factors in the lives of all people, since it is during these years that a person acquires the most basic habits. How can we provide our children with healthy nutrition?
Challenges for children
The modern world poses quite a few culinary and health challenges. These challenges are even more significant with respect to young children and teenagers. Our children find it much more difficult that we do to resist the temptation of candy and enticing foods attracting them in grocery stores, supermarkets or delis, and prefer sugar-rich candy over wholesome, high quality food that is tasty and nutritious. Healthy food can prevent illness and contribute to longevity, health, motivation and a positive attitude. Food is our major source of energy, in combination with proper sleep and physical equilibrium.
The nutritional ingredients that are supplied to a child through the food that he or she consumes have a significant impact. The child’s mood and behavior in the kindergarten or classroom, his memory and concentration, her ability to establish social ties in kindergarten or school, their well-developed and creative cognitive skills – all these are derivatives of proper food and nutrition that includes the ingredients and components that the body needs, especially during the early years. Due to the culinary richness and variety of food lacking any substantial nutritional value – it is necessary to carefully pick and choose the menu we offer our children.
Children need whole foods that include the most basic nutritional values and all the vitamins that ensure healthy and balanced development. A child’s menu should include carbohydrates, representing 50-60% of the children’s daily intake. Carbohydrates can be whole grains such as rice, whole wheat, mung beans, etc., and various fruits and vegetables. It is important to incorporate wholesome and high quality protein in the menu, such as tofu and eggs (free range organic eggs are good for children), chickpeas, beans, lentils, and more. It is also advisable to include different types of oils in a child’s diet, such as avocado, olive oil, tahini, almonds and more.
Not only what, but also how
When planning a menu for children, it is not only the ingredients that are important, how food is consumed is also significant. At what time do children consume the main meal of the day and when do they receive treats and snacks, when do children eat interim meals, and do they eat a mid-morning meal, and more. Meal times affect not only the physical nutrition but also have a substantial impact in the general lifestyle and schedule. Keeping regular meal hours and eating balanced meals ensure a lifestyle that is healthy and well-balanced. Moreover, since these are the most critical years of a child’s life – they will affect his and her life as adults.
What should a meal include?
By maintaining regular meal hours, we are actually accustoming the body to manage food, and by including the suitable nutritional values in each meal, we nurture the body with the elements it needs. However, all the nutritional values should be integrated into every meal.