Child Nutrition and the Importance of Calories

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What amount of calories per child is required? 

Like people, not all children need the same calorie intake, therefore, there is no exact amount. However, there is a recommended range for most school-age children between 1200 calories and 2200 calories per day.

At the puberty stage, it is girls who need more calories than boys, although most boys and girls do not have to worry about calories due to the daily physical activity they do.

Those who are overweight should make sure not to consume too many calories. To do this, they can start avoiding high-calorie foods such as sugary drinks, sweets, and fast foods.

It is best to follow a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, and play, as it helps burn calories.

What nutrients are necessary?

Proteins

They are essential substances for the formation and development of the organism, as well as for the regeneration of tissues. They are found in foods of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, milk and their derivatives), and in those of plant origin (peas, beans, lentils, etc.).

They should account for approximately 12 percent of the child’s daily energy consumption.

Carbohydrates

They are the main source of energy in the body. They are divided into simple and complex: the former act immediately, quickly replenishing the energy load (sugar, honey, milk and fruit); the latter provide longer-term energy (cereals, potatoes, legumes, chestnuts, etc.)

Your contribution should be very important, 60 percent (10 percent, simple and 50 percent, complex) of daily energy needs.

Vitamins

Serve to regulate and coordinate the activity of all cells. Vitamin A is necessary for vision, skin, growth and circulation. Vitamin C helps boost the body’s defenses, and those in group B are very valuable for the nervous system.

Vitamins are present in almost all food groups: fish, meat and eggs are rich in vitamins of group B, D, K and PP; milk and its derivatives and vegetables, in vitamins A and B2; cereals and nuts contain vitamins of group B1 and PP; and fruits and vegetables have vitamins A and C.

Mineral salts

They are fundamental elements for the organism by multiple functions: calcium (dairy, vegetables and legumes), phosphorus (dairy, fish and nuts) and fluoride (fish) are used to build bones and teeth ; iron (meat, eggs, legumes and vegetables) forms red blood cells; Sodium and potassium (meats, cereals, vegetables and fruits) are beneficial for the nervous system, heart and muscles.

Fats

Are the energy nutrients par excellence. They participate in the formation of the nervous system and the cell membranes of the brain and, in addition, are essential for the body to absorb some vitamins (A, D, E and K). They are divided into two groups: saturated fats (of animal origin), which are found in butter, cream, red meat, cheese and sausage; and unsaturated fats (of vegetable origin), present in olive oil, some white meat and certain fish.

They should represent about 25-30 percent of daily energy consumption (20 percent, unsaturated fats and 10 percent, saturated).

How can they have complete nutrition and calories?

The answer is simple: with healthy eating.

Healthy eating in children would guarantee their growth and the development of their abilities for adult life. Good child nutrition improves cognitive development and reduces future disease risks. Healthy eating is one of the main concerns of parents.

Healthy eating must have the following characteristics:

  • Complete

There are 3 groups of foods, lipids, carbohydrates and proteins; It is important that we consider these 3 groups at each meal time.

  • Enough

That meet the requirements of each nutrient, to strengthen the body.

  • Varied

That includes different foods from each food group, for example vegetables: vary the colors of the vegetables because they get different nutrients each color.

  • Adequate

Adjusted to the economic resources, culture and tastes of each person. There is always variety for everyone, it is virtually unlimited.

  • Innocuous

Free of harmful microorganisms, toxins and contaminants, this means that everything must be well washed and disinfected.

  • Balanced

That the nutrients keep their appropriate proportions with each other. On the plate: 50% vegetables, 25% cereals (preferably whole grains), 25% protein.

What food can provide them complete nutrition and calorie?

We have chosen the 5 best foods with more nutrients for children:

1. Eggs

Your child can never repeat enough. Eggs are the healthiest and most nutritious foods that exist, especially the yolk. Always eat the eggs with yolk. In addition to essential proteins and fats, eggs contain choline, essential for the brain, and antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Buy eggs from chickens raised with grass or enriched in Omega 3.

2. Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fatty fish

With a high concentration of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, high in protein and large amounts of magnesium, selenium, potassium and B vitamins

3. Spinach, broccoli, and other leafy vegetables

Throw the lettuce in the trash, dark green vegetables are your allies. High in vitamin C, A, K1, B6 and potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. Do not boil them, if they are crispy, they will maintain their properties.

4. Algae

Sea vegetables are much richer in nutrients than those from the earth. Algae contain large amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and especially iodine, essential for thyroid function. They are also rich in carotenoids and other antioxidants.

5. Garlic

It can’t be missing in children’s food. It contains vitamin C, B1, B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium. A component of garlic called allicin helps lower blood pressure and reduce levels of bad LDL cholesterol, raising those of HDL.

Extra

In addition to these 5 foods, there are granola nutritional bars so that children can accompany their meals or eat them on the snack. Granola bars can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and even at an early dinner. With their different flavors, are a great source of nutrients and energy for children, and you can get it at https://www.madegoodfoods.ca/collections/shop-good

What can they have at breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

1. Breakfast

Consume carbohydrates to have energy during the day such as: whole wheat bread, baguette or the so-called Arab, water or roses. Also: cereals, oatmeal, fresh fruits, whole toast, green or ripe.

It is suggested that the child consume a carbohydrate with a protein such as: milk, yogurt, nuts, cheese, egg, among others.

Example: Wholemeal bread with cheese, hard or scrambled eggs, coffee, tea or milk.

2. Lunch

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day, which is why 50% of calories should be consumed. Eat vegetables, rice, potatoes, cassava, pasta or beans, soy derivatives, fish, chicken, meat, among others.

Example 1: Mashed potatoes with chicken fried in water, without oil.

Example 2: Tuna salad and small portion of rice, without oil.

3. Dinner

One of the biggest mistakes you make is having dinner after 20:00, which does not allow for proper digestion.

The advisable thing would be to have dinner three hours before bed so that we can metabolize the ingested foods and burn part of them.

Example 1: Tuna salad or other white meats such as shrimp or chicken with vegetables.

Example 2: Cooked and ripe corn roasted with cheese.

In drinks: yogurt or milk. 

Conclusion

A healthy, balanced and complete calorie diet is essential for the health status of children, and decisive for the proper functioning of the organism, good growth, optimal learning ability, communication, thinking, socializing and adapting to new environments and people.

For this diet to be complete, all food groups must be consumed including carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins, dairy products, fats and sugars. The key is to find a balance in the consumption of each group of nutrients.

Children are in a period of significant growth so their body has very high energy and nutrient needs. Each food group has specific and essential functions, so it is important to encourage our children to maintain a varied diet.

A varied and healthy diet always goes hand in hand with physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children do 1 hour a day of some kind of recreational activity whether riding a bicycle, playing in the park, rollerblading, swimming, dancing or soccer.

Avoid a sedentary lifestyle in your children and encourage them to play sports in a fun way instead of going to a screen all afternoon. 

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