The time after the third year of age until puberty, although physical growth may be less dramatic and more consistent, it is a time of significant growth not only physically but also in emotional, cognitive and social areas. Because children are growing and developing bones, muscles and blood, they need more nutritious food in proportion to their weight than adults.
They may have the risk of malnutrition when appetite is poor for a long time, or only accept a limited number of foods and their diets are replaced with nutrient-deficient foods. We have to skillfully help them not reject any model of food. Furthermore it must be remembered that no child should be forced to eat, the rigid control or lax conduct are not adequate. A rule of thumb is to offer a big spoonful of each food for each year of age and serve more food depending on appetite.
These years are critical for not suffering from obesity for life. Obesity in childhood is not a benign disorder, despite the popular belief that the overweight will be over. The more time is overweight, the more likely it is that obesity continues through adolescence and adulthood; at this age, the number of fat cells increases and thus the power must be fair and the best, the two foes are fat and sugar.
In recent decades, the family structure has changed. Now almost half of women work outside the home. Consequently children eat one or more times with their grandparents or in school. Due to time restrictions, the purchase of food and food preparation has been modified to include greater use of easy and fast food. The plague of divorces divided economies and subtracts money for all expenses, including food.
As children grow, their world, their social contacts expand and take greater importance. The influence of peers increases with age and extends to the attitudes and choices of food. Parents must put limits but not the conflict in such situations, knowing that children get less interested in the food and the world around them.
The physical environment for meals for children is as important as the emotional atmosphere. Discussions are negative at mealtime. By contrast, a positive environment can help chew food and to thank both the silence and the nice conversation.
If you eat at standard tables, they should have high chairs, to feel comfortable with the table at the height of the thorax.
- For smaller, it is the appropriate to use unbreakable cups and plates and a lot of weight so that they do not spill food while eating alone.
- A little deep bowl is better than a dish to ease feeding spoon.
- The spoons and forks of thick short handle allow them to catch better and get less tired.
Children usually do not eat well if are tired, something to keep in mind when scheduling meal times and times of games. However, to stimulate a good appetite, you need large motor activities and spending time outdoors.
When choosing foods for children, we must consider that the energy obtained must come mainly from complex carbohydrates such as whole grain cereals in grain form or boiled cream, relying more on those which do not add gluten in their composition. The potatoes should be taken in moderation and on an ad hoc annulment of the diet. The sugar will be reduced significantly by substituting honey or molasses and cereal in a quantity not exceeding one teaspoon daily, as well as small portions of fresh or dried fruit syrups and fruit or jam. Children who abuse sweet are restless, unstable and lack concentration. I do not recommend sweeteners because they are all artificial and violent for the taste sensitivity of children.
The protein must be right, because it can excessively overload the liver and kidney. Animal protein adds unnecessary saturated fat and accelerates growth of the physical body, it can be a weekly egg, small portions of poultry, or fish. Among the plant proteins, we recommend azukis, lentils, tofu, chickpeas and beans, always well-cooked vegetables and fortified with land and sea. Another source of quality vegetable proteins is derived from nuts and oilseeds, recommending a big spoonful of pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds or nuts daily.
The milk will be reduced, and if the child does not enjoy health, eliminate it. If consumption, it is preferable yoghurt, cheese and occasionally small pieces of cheese. Avoid sausages, snacks, pastries in general.
With fruit, choose local and seasonal, especially the apple and pear. Do no abuse of salt and educate the child, that water is the best drink to prevent thirst. Soda drinks that contain sugar are bad.
Summarizing we realize that cereals, vegetables, vegetable proteins and fruit, dressed with small portions of nuts, meat, fish and dairy products are the cornerstones of a healthy, balanced diet.