It is important to ensure that children have a healthy and balanced diet to ensure optimal development. Children need a very different diet than an adult, or more simply put, they need foods that will give them the nutrients their body needs to grow . It is advisable to start introducing the children to healthy eating at a very early age, preferably in a playful way, because this way they can get used to the tastes and aromas early on. When it comes to healthy nutrition for children, you can also stick to the classic food pyramid or at least use it as a guide. This means children need to drink just as much (1-2 liters a day), eat enough plant-based foods and only eat a small amount of animal products, as well as sweets and fatty foods. It is equally important to realize that children are not able to bridge the time between meals like an adult. This is due to their metabolism. Furthermore, the amount of food must be adapted to age, activity and body size, because only if you feed the child according to its age can you lay a good foundation for the child to eat healthily later in life.
Healthy eating in children: the guide
- It is important that children get enough fluids throughout the day, such as water, unsweetened herbal and fruit teas. However, vegetable and fruit juices that are diluted are also a good alternative. On the other hand, you should refrain from caffeinated drinks. Depending on age, the fluid requirement varies and can be between 1 and 2 liters, part of which is covered by solid foods (fruit and vegetables).
- It is ideal if the child eats 5 portions of fruit, vegetables and legumes a day. It depends on the tolerance, whether they are eaten raw or cooked. The children's fist can be used as a measure of the portion size.
- Carbohydrates! Pasta, potatoes, rice, bread and grain products provide this important nutrient. Make it a rule to give preference to whole grain cereals because they are rich in nutrients. Goods with a lot of sugar or fatty foods are less suitable, and muesli with a lot of sugar and a portion of fries should therefore rarely be on the menu.
- Milk and milk products are important suppliers of calcium. Therefore, it is important that children eat something of it every day. Children who like to drink milk also like to eat yoghurt or a piece of cheese.
- Children should eat fish 1-2 times a week because it contains protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Fish such as tuna, plaice or salmon are particularly suitable because of their taste. Meat and sausages should be on the menu three times a week, but you should make sure that they are low in fat. Here you should prefer lean turkey or chicken as well as tender beef or pork fillet. The meat can either be steamed or breaded, although care should be taken not to absorb unnecessary fats when frying. Caution should be exercised when eating eggs.
- In any case, fats and oils should be used very little and with caution. If you see fat on meat or fish, you should remove it and pay special attention to the hidden fats in the food. Salt and sweets should also only be given to the child in moderation. You can easily replace this with a bowl of delicious fruit, for example. Of course, children shouldn't be forbidden from snacking, so from time to time you should give them the pleasure of being able to eat something snacking or a hamburger, kebab or other fast food.