Sometimes it is hard to believe that the child nutrition programs who does not approach anything green to his mouth, the high school student that the only vegetable that eats is romaine lettuce and the one of high school that lives on kale shakes; can be the same person.
But, that’s the diversity and preferences of children as they grow into adulthood. And it’s also child nutrition programs needs that are changing along with their preferences, says Holiday Zanetti, Senior Scientific Researcher and Clinical Researcher for Nutrilite.
“This is why teaching children from a young age about child nutrition and health is so important,” Holiday said. “While calories, vitamins and minerals vary according to the stage of life, sex, activity level and periods of growth, the quality of the diet must be healthy, consistent and balanced.” There are some child nutrition programs which keeps an eye on the child.
Broadly speaking, this means many fresh fruits and vegetables – from five to nine servings per day, according to the World Health Organization. Make sure they are from all color categories to ensure a variety of phytonutrients. Add to that whole grains, lean and sweet proteins and sweets in moderation.
Although child nutrition as children grow and develop, it is good to focus on some additional nutritional needs.
Toddlers and preschoolers (1-5 years old)
From 1 to 5 years of age, accelerated growth greatly boosts children’s appetites, Holiday said. Although they seem to eat their own weight every day or almost nothing, it is good to emphasize calcium and vitamin D to have strong teeth and bones.
Days at school (6-11 years)
The school cafeteria will expose children to a variety of options across the nutritional spectrum. You can see children with hummus perfectly packed together with carrot sticks every day sitting with the one who eats cold pizza and chips with a dessert cake.
This is where phrases like “Families are different” and “Everything in moderation” are useful as you continue to guide your child towards healthy choices that will propel their bodies for academics, play and sports.
“Good sources of protein, whether from animal sources, legumes, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts and Greek yogurt are the key to building a solid foundation,” Holiday said. “The body also needs healthy carbohydrates, sugar but limited and fiber I hope to increase, and healthy fats.”
Pre adolescents and adolescents (12-19)
Healthy eating is still important to give teens the energy they need to accommodate the transformation they experience in their adult-like bodies. It also becomes an even greater challenge as young people juggle studies, sports, work and other after-school activities.
“Some teens can start eating fast food and junk food to meet these additional caloric needs,” Holiday said. “But it has little nutritional value and should be limited.”
Other teens can go to the other extreme and limit calories of any kind while struggling with their body image. That also limits child nutrition programs, Holiday said.
“Parents or caregivers should be aware of changes in their children’s eating habits and choices to guide them accordingly,” he said.
Puberty is the ideal time for the development of bone mass in men and women, so foods rich in calcium and vitamin D should be consumed regularly, Holiday said. Fiber and macronutrients remain important, while complex carbohydrates should be the main source of energy. (That means whole grains and brown rice, not processed drinks of simple and sweet flavors that make up many teenage diets).
This is also the time when the calorie and nutrition needs begin to differ between men and women, Holiday said. “Depending on the level of activity and growth, children generally need a little more calories and protein than girls at this stage, while women will need more iron to equip what they lose during menstruation.”
How to fill in the gaps
Focusing on a healthy diet loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables is the best way for children and adolescents to get the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients they need every day. We know that times is a struggle just to take them to the bus stop on time.
Supplements are not a substitute for a healthy diet, but they can provide you with peace of mind!
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