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07 February 2011

What should your child eat?

Children depend on adults to educate them about the importance of nutrition. How much milk should a two year old drink daily, how much meat or fruit and veggies should her eat?

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Young children do not automatically choose healthy foods, they depend on adults to offer them a wide variety and educate them about the importance of nutritious foods. How much milk should a two year old drink daily, how much meat should he eat, how much fruit and veggies?

Children from two years of age until puberty typically gain an average of 2 to 3 kilograms and 6 to 8 cm in height per year.

Growth rate and physical changes during this time are not nearly as rapid as during the first year of life and during adolescence. During childhood significant development occurs in fine and gross motor co-ordination, social, cognitive and emotional areas. Toddlers who need help feeding themselves become children who make their own food choices based on education about food and peer influence.

Energy needs are variable and depend on a child’s metabolism, rate of growth, physical activity and body size. Many nutrient requirements depend on energy needs and intake, according to scientists of Pharma Natura manufacturer of a range of products, Vitaforce, including kiddies vitamins like Junglevites, and Bettaway.

Parents often become concerned when a good eater in infancy becomes a fair to poor eater as a toddler, previously favourite foods are refused or few other foods are desired.

Young children do not automatically choose healthful foods, they depend on adults to offer them a wide variety and educate them about the importance of nutritious foods.

Teach your children about good nutrition
Children often enjoy being involved in planning their meals. By teaching children from an early age about the principles of good nutrition, they are able to make nutritious food choices for themselves as they get older. Older children from about the age of seven also develop their own food likes and dislikes, but with sound nutrition knowledge can still eat healthful foods that they do enjoy eating.

Children have sensory specific satiety levels: they eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they are full.

Adults often do not listen to this stimulus. They eat due to cravings, sociability or because a food is “good for you”. It is important not to force children to eat, make them finish their food on their plate if they are full, or use dessert or sweets as a “reward” for a clean plate as they too will ignore the body’s natural satiety stimulus and develop unhealthy eating patterns, which can later lead to the chronic diseases of life style such as overweight, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

The best thing for parents to do is offer a variety of attractive healthful foods in a pleasant comfortable surrounding, after all food is fun and eating should be an enjoyable experience.

Healthy eating tips for children

  • A good breakfast including high fibre cereal or cooked oat bran porridge will help keep blood sugar levels within a normal range and enhance concentration levels at school.
  • Pack a nutritious lunch box with foods such as whole grain sandwiches, fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juices, vegetable pieces, peanuts and raisins, low fat milk, yoghurt and lean cold meats.
  • Tuck shop visits should be limited to once a week or special occasions as the food available is often not nutritious. If healthy food choices are available try and influence your child to purchase these instead of “ junk food”.
  • Setting a good example at home is important especially if children are girls as they soon pick up their mother’s concerns about body size and become more susceptible to media influences.

What about micronutrient supplementation?
A good nutritional supplement guarantees that a child’s micronutrient needs are met on a daily basis especially if food patterns tend to be erratic and when a child is sick or recovering from an illness.

Adequate micronutrients improve the function of the nervous system, immune system and the endocrine system resulting in better cognitive functions (memory, concentration and hand-eye co-ordination) Body systems also function optimally with adequate micronutrient support.

Research indicates that the nutrients most likely to be deficient are calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin A.

Calcium and magnesium supports proper skeletal development and muscle function.

Vitamin A and zinc supports immune function.

Ironsupports optimal mental development.

Vitamin Csupports immune system and reduces the duration of common colds.

Vitaforce recommends the following to support your child’s optimal growth and development:

JungleVites ( containing Vitamin A, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, nicotinamide, folic acid, biotin, calcium-D-pantothenate, Iron, magnesium, zinc and PABA). Recommended Dosage for kids 2-4 years: chew 1 tablet daily; kids 4 –12 years: chew 2 tablets daily.

All Vitaforce products contain no artificial colours and flavours, no preservatives, are lactose and gluten free, are yeast and salt free and contains no caffeine. All supplements should be taken with food unless other wise specified.

Consult your physician, dietician and/or pharmacist for advice before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.

The nutrition and lifestyle recommendations for children over the age of two are the same as for adults except the portion sizes are smaller - see chart below.

Feeding Guide for Children*
The following is a guide to a basic diet. Fats, sauces, desserts, and snack foods provide additional energy to meet the needs of the growing child. Foods may be selected from this guide for meals and snacks.

Ages 2-3

Food

Portion size

Serving

Milk and dairy

1/2 a cup (112g)

4-5

Meat/fish/poultry

28g-56g

2

Veg/fruit

Vegetables

+Raw

Cooked

Fruit

Raw

Canned

Juice

 

 

2-3tblsp

few pieces

 

1/2 to 1 small

2-4tblsp

84g-112g

4-5

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

Bread/grain

Whole grain

Cooked cereal

Dry cereal

 

1/2 to 1 slice

1/4 to 1/2 a cup

1/2 to 1 cup

3-4

   

   

   

 

Ages 4-6

Food

Portion size

Serving

Milk and dairy

1/2 to 3/4 cup (112g-168g)

3-4

Meat/fish/poultry

28g-56g

2

Veg/fruit

Vegetables

+Raw

Cooked

Fruit

Raw

Canned

Juice

 

 

3-4tblsp

few pieces

 

1/2 to 1 small

4-6tblsp

112g

4-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread/grain

Whole grain

Cooked cereal

Dry cereal

 

                                                        1 slice

1/2 a cup

1 cup

3-4

 

 

 

 

Ages 7 - 12

Food

Portion size

Serving

Milk and dairy

1/2 to 1 cup (112g-224g)

3-4

Meat/fish/poultry

56g

2

Veg/fruit

Vegetables

+Raw

Cooked

Fruit

Raw

Canned

Juice

 

 

1/4 to 1/2 a cup

several pieces

 

1 medium

1/4 to 1/2 a cup

112g

4-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread/grain

Whole grain

Cooked cereal

Dry cereal

 

                                                        one slice

1/2 to 1 cup

1 cup

4-5

 

 

 

* Adapted from Lowenberg ME. Development of food patterns in young children. In: Pipes PL, Trahms CM, eds. Nutrition Infancy and Childhood. 5th ed. St Louis, MO: Mosby-Year Book; 1993:168-169. With permission of Times Mirror/Mosby College Publishing.

+Do not give to young children until they can chew well

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The following may be substituted for 1 slice bread: ½ cup spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, or rice, 3 cream crackers, ½ muffin or ½ brown roll
 
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