Their acceleration could be the metaphorical equivalent of a Ferrari coupe taking off from zero to 60 in XX seconds. That’s how children between two and five grow. And that explains the amusing exclamation aunties and uncles provide to describe the once-removed cousin they have met for a while: “Ooh, how much she has grown!” A child in the pre-school years grows taller by about two-three inches and gains as much weight each year, according to experts. To supplement this rapid growth and development, good, healthy and nutritious foods plus adequate exercise are critical. And kids should learn to enjoy nutritious foods, adopt healthy behaviour for maximum development and lifelong good health.
The best time to start with a healthy life is childhood. In general, as per recommended dietary allowances, kids between two and five require 1,100 to 1,300 kcal, 1.2-1.5 gm of protein/kg of body weight, 25-30 gm of healthy fats, 600 mg of calcium and a good amount of iodine/vitamin A/folate and ascorbic acid supplementation. The supplementation should be done through natural foods like roasted makhana, banana, leafy greens, peanuts and oil seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, etc) for calcium and folate.
Here are some points/steps to remember:
*The actual job/role of parents and caregivers is to select the type of food correctly, frequent feeding, make mealtime pleasant for kids and avoid grazing in between the meals
*The second step to healthy eating is knowing what foods are healthy and to what extent. MyPlate is a guide for building a healthy plate for children specifically.
*Correct portion size. Portions sizes of foods have increased over the past few decades in context of children diet. Larger portions may give children the impression that they should eat more than they really need. To help establish a healthy concept of portion size and to prevent overfeeding, serve a “kid-friendly” portion of food, snacks, and drinks. Usually, it is about half the portion of an adult. Use smaller plates, forks, spoons, and cups for children.
*For picky eaters (picky eating is quite common), the best is to take them food shopping and help them choose healthy fruits and vegetables. Teach them to prepare or invent meals or snacks. Give them new food in innovative ways. Place the food in a form of surprises in front of them.
*Be a good example for your kid. Involve healthy eating habits in your diet too, so that your kid adopts it too. Eat together and share your major adventure with them.
*Take care of essential vitamins and minerals. First preference should be on calcium, folate, iron and vitamin D. Along with that proper hydration is important.