How to feed your children in a healthy way

According to figures provided by the World Health Organization last October, in the last 40 years the number of children with obesity in the world has multiplied by 10. The study took into account children and adolescents aged between 5 and 19 years old. According to data provided by the same study, among the factors that explain this increase in obesity are commercialization, policies and food prices.  To “fight” against this reality, it  is important that parents begin to question what foods they buy at the supermarket  and plan menus  as healthy as possible. In this article I seek to summarize aspects that can greatly improve infant feeding and provide six basic tips to achieve this.

1.Do not force children to eat

It is very important to respect the satiety signal of children and not force them to eat since this can favor the appearance of obesity and chronic diseases in adulthood. It is also equally important to make sure that the foods usually offered are healthy foods and that the child can take the amounts freely. Hunger usually increases physiologically in periods of increased growth.

2. Children, like adults, should avoid eating processed foods

To begin with, it should be remembered that the type of food that children should consume at school stage are the same as parents should consume. This means that processed foods such as sausages, pastries, cookies, soft drinks, sweets, etc. (rich in saturated fat, salt and sugar) should be avoided in all cases.

3. Child feeding should also provide a large amount of plant-based foods

The daily diet of children should provide approximately 70% of plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, cereals (preferably whole grains), olive oil and fruits and vegetables and the remaining 30% must consist of animal foods like fish, shellfish, eggs and low-fat meats and dairy. In the case of children who follow vegetarian diets, it is advisable to seek the advice of a qualified dietitian-nutritionist who can perform a nutritional guideline.

4. Recommendations vary

Calorie and protein recommendations vary depending on sex and age. From the age of 10, there are different recommendations for girls and boys. It is clearly seen in this picture:
Energy recommendations

5. Healthy macronutrients

And how to contribute these calories in infant feeding? As in the case of adults, they have to be provided through three macronutrients:

  • Healthy fats  (olive oil and seeds). They provide more than twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates and provide fat-soluble vitamins with essential functions in the body. Also blue fish and seeds and nuts are sources of omega 3 that favors the development of the nervous system and vision and regulates inflammation.
    In relation to olive oil, an easy technique when it comes to making a family meal is to use an oil spoon per diner. In case of lack of appetite or low weight it is advisable to enrich with oil in the child’s own dish since each spoon provides between 90-100 lime. Remember that apart from lunch and dinner, oil is used in snacks and if necessary, it can even be used in milkshakes.
    Nuts, like olive oil, are also a source of quality fat and can be offered crushed or ground in children under 3 years old. On the other hand, pastries, ice cream, sweets, sausages and precooked foods are a source of low-quality fats and increase the caloric intake of food surprisingly, favoring overweight and obesity, even in growing children.
  • Protein (legumes, fish, shellfish, eggs and low-fat meats and dairy). They have essential amino acids that the body itself cannot synthesize and allow growth as they are part of the structure of blood cells, organs, bones and muscles. Although they also provide energy, their main function is to repair and form tissues and cells, including those involved in the defense against disease.
    The farinaceous and the nuts also contribute proteins although they do not contribute all the essential amino acids.
    Keep in mind that proteins are not only provided by the foods of the protein group (meat, fish, eggs, legumes) but also dairy products provide complete proteins. And in addition, nuts and farinaceans also help complete the protein intake; for this reason, protein deficiency is unlikely in our environment and it is not necessary to provide large amounts of meat for children to grow properly.
  • Carbohydrates (farinaceous). They provide energy to perform the different bodily functions and perform correctly in physical activity. If they are consumed in the integral version, not only are more vitamins and minerals provided, but high blood sugar spikes that are harmful to health are also avoided.
    Fruits and vegetables also provide some carbohydrates, but especially fiber, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that are very important to maintain a good state of health.

5- Proportions

What are the proportions I should offer of each food? This chart incorporates the amounts in homemade measures to facilitate understanding.

FOOD GROUP DAILY AND WEEKLY FREQUENCY
FARINACEOS (Rice, pasta … etc)
In each of the daily meals
VEGETABLES AND VEGETABLES At least at lunch and dinner
FRESH FRUIT At least three a day
NUTS 3 to 7 handfuls per week
MILK, YOGURT AND CHEESE 2-3 times per day
PROTEIN 2 a day MAGRA AND WHITE MEAT 3-4 times a week (maximum 2 times a week of red meat)
FISH 3-4 times a week
EGGS 3-4 times a week
VEGETABLES 3-4 times a week
OIL To dress or cook
WATER Depending on thirst

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