Things every mother should know about a balanced diet

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Is your child getting the proper nutrition for his age? Find out more about the nutrients and a balanced diet.

Every mother is worried about the child's proper nutrition. But, giving the child all the nutrients is not enough; the nutrients should be in the right quantity and of the right quality. A diet, thus balanced should be the aim of every mother.

The dietary requirements children change as they grow up. But how does a mother know that the diet is a balanced one for that age group?

I will try to simplify some of the jargon around food and nutrition. This will help you plan a balanced diet.

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats

The macronutrients, Carbohydrates, fats and proteins, form the bulk of the food. They are required in substantial amounts and perform the energy and repair functions of the body.

Carbohydrates provide energy and roughage. They form the bulk of the food in the form of rotis and rice. Ideally, carbs should fulfil the energy requirements of the child.

Proteins form the building blocks of the body. They are found in legumes and pulses. Thus, having daal is very important for the growing child. Also, they are found in animal sources like meat and poultry and eggs. Soya is one plant based ingredient rich in proteins.

Proteins can provide energy in the absence of carbohydrates, but this is not why proteins are consumed. They perform the normal wear and tear of the body. Everything you see in the body from the colour of the eyes to the well-defined muscles is because of proteins.

Fats are thought to be the villains among the nutrients, but they are essential for the body. Fats provide energy and insulation and help perform many bodily functions. They are found in ghee, cheese and dairy products.

Vitamins and minerals

The micronutrients, Vitamins and minerals are required in minute quantities but play a vital role in the maintenance of the body.

Vitamins are classified as A, D, E, K, C and B complex.

A is essential for vision, D is important for strong bones and muscles, C and E are important to protect the body cells from harm, K helps in clotting of the blood and B complex are important for various metabolic processes.

Minerals like Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium and Iron are required in minute amounts, and you will often spot them in the multivitamin tablets along with the vitamins mentioned above. They perform various functions in the body. Mentioning each would make this article too technical.

That said, you need to make sure that your kid gets them in a proper amount. Nature has made it simple, and most of the minerals are found in fruits, leafy vegetables and milk.

Read on to find out more about a balanced diet

RDA and calories

You must have heard about RDA in many ads. Recommended Dietary Allowance is the optimum amount of macro and micronutrients that a person is supposed to consume.

Calories, on the other hand, is a count of energy that could be derived from that food stuff. It is important to know about the calories as whatever is not used is stored in the body in the form of glycogen.

This glycogen is converted and stored in the form of fats. An excessive amount of fats stored in the body causing obesity and a range of issues that crop with it.

How to plan a balanced diet for the child?

Well, this would depend on the age of the child. The energy requirements of the child change with the age. They are also different for boys and girls.

As a rule of thumb, half of the thaali should be filled with carbohydrates. A quarter should be filled with a protein and a vitamin source like sabji, and the remaining quarter should be filled with mineral and fats sources like fruits and yoghurt.

A food pyramid is a good representation of the proportion of nutrients that are needed by the children.

USDA_Food_Pyramid

The RDAs and energy requirements for children could be found here.

Remember:

  • Follow the food pyramid
  • If there is a cheat meal, try and compensate the dietary requirements for the day by adjusting the other meal
  • Avoid processed food, cold drinks and other foodstuffs that would throw the proportion off balance
  • Go for home cooked meals
  • Permitted colours and artificial flavours can be avoided!

Plan the meals well for a robust development of your child!

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