In the Philippines, severe malnutrition is rampant. In a report by Save the Children in 2018, the Philippines ranks 104th out of 175 countries for children to grow up in. Malnutrition in children is one of the root causes that pulls the country’s global ranking down. This makes it important for the government and parents to work towards providing a balanced diet for children.
A balanced diet for children
A balanced diet for children is vital for physical and mental development. It contributes to the prevention of various health conditions. A healthy balanced diet for children provides many benefits, including:
- Stabilizes energy
- Improves their minds
- Evens out their moods
- Maintenance of healthy weight
- Prevention of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD
Healthy eating has also shown to prevent these diseases:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Iron deficiency
- Dental cavities
It is also more likely for good eating habits to stick with a person longer if they are practiced as early as childhood. Therefore, it is important to practice healthy eating habits and maintain a balanced diet as early as possible.
A child’s nutritional needs should follow the same principles as that of an adult. Each individual needs the same nutrients to develop and maintain the body and mind. A balanced diet for children only differs from the dietary needs of teens and adults in the required amount of nutrients.
Here are some dietary options to consider to provide a balanced diet for children:
Pick food options such as seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy, nuts, and seeds, for a healthy amount of protein.
Fruits are important for a balanced diet for children.
Fruit juices are not exactly the equivalent of the t itself. In addition, fruit juice usually contains unwanted sugars and preservatives that add to calories and introduce unhealthy ingredients to the child. Occasional fruit juice or two is fine as long as it is 100% pure, and there are no sweeteners added.
Canned fruits are a convenient way to prepare and serve fruits for a balanced diet for children. Be warned however that some of these canned delicacies may also contain sugars and preservatives that are unhealthy for kids. Search for canned fruit that is lightly packed in its own juices as this means it is lower in sugar compared to other canned options. Also, keep in mind that dried fruit contains more calories than its fresh counterparts.
Eating an excess amount of dried fruits may contribute to unwanted calories.
Much like fruits as well, vegetables are integral to a balanced diet for children. Present children with a variety of canned, frozen, fresh or dried vegetables. However, canned, frozen, and dried vegetables may contain unwanted ingredients in them. Look for low sodium options to maintain a healthy intake. When keeping it fresh, try to provide a variety of different kinds of vegetables.
When it comes to grains, being picky is a good option. Grains such as white bread, pasta, or white rice are not ideal for a child’s development. Instead, pick whole grains when feeding developing kids. Oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice are good options for a balanced diet for children.
Dairy is also a part of a balanced diet for children. However not all dairy is created equal. When searching for dairy options for kids, pick items that are either low or free in fat. Yogurt, milk, cheese, and soy are among the good choices one can make.
What not to eat
Parents should be mindful of limiting the amounts of some ingredients that their children are taking in. Sugar adds additional calories to a meal. Added sugars such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, syrup, and honey should be closely monitored when it comes to a kid’s diet. One should also aim to limit the amount of saturated and trans fat their kid takes in. Sources of saturated fats such as red meat and dairy products full of fat should be monitored and limited. Parents need to look to replace these fats with healthier options such as vegetable nuts and oils.
How to support a balanced diet for children
Here are some possible ways to support a balanced diet for children.
Breakfast is important
A balanced breakfast is a great way to replenish the nutrients expended during a child’s sleep. It is also a good way for them to start the day full of energy.
It is important to instill good healthy eating habits in children. It also gives parents an opportunity to spend time and bond with their kids.
Involve kids in choosing food
Giving children agency in choosing what food they want to eat. This also encourages them to eat.
Shift to healthy foods
Lead by example. While a complete makeover of the fridge might be too much of an ask, simply choosing healthier options of usual food choices can have a big impact on the family and children.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.