Diet for Teenagers and children
Now that your child is growing and out of that “monitor 24/7 hrs” stage, life is probably a bit easier for you.
Now you have more time to yourself and can plan out a more structured day.
Your Child is probably going to school and spending a considerable time out of your sight.
Well, all that is great but one point I would like all of you parents to consider is that, since now you are more used to your Child, you might often miss their dietary needs as you did probably some time ago.
I agree that it is easier now since they have an adult diet with everyone else in the family. The way you monitor their nutritional requirements will change, but your involvement is still a must.
Growing children need lots of nutrition, and as they are more active than adults generally throughout the day, their nutritional storage needs to be replenished regularly.
With this thought in mind, I thought of sharing a few things you could do to see that your child is on the right track.
11 Tips for keeping your teenage Child’s nutrition on the right track
1. I can understand that it is practically difficult to count calories or even your child every day.
I recommend that you at least know the caloric count that your Child needs at her particular age and decide on a pattern of eating that fulfils the caloric need approximately.
With today’s food availability and processed food ideas, this has become tricky.
That’s why I recommend that you have a rough idea and a pattern of eating that suits you.
2. Make a conscious effort to consume processed food in negligible quantities in general. Kids specifically get attracted and addicted to such food as they are high in sugar and salt. Keep children away from processed sugar, salt, transfer and cholesterol-laden food.
They are mostly habit forming, and Your Child’s lifelong health will be determined by the habits that you help her create at this age. Also please go through the nutrition chart for kids for better parenting
3. From my research, I found the following range as permissible in a kids diet.
Fat – 30 to 35% for 2 to 3-year-olds
25 to 30 % for 4 to 18-year-olds
* * The fat content in the food should come from polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids like fish, nuts or vegetable fats.
4. As a general rule, make it a point to have your Child’s meal consisting of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients.
5. Children should have enough liquid to keep themselves hydrated at all times. They often do not realize that they are thirsty and not hungry. This sometimes results in gorging on chips and colas. Keep special care to hydrate them.
6. Research shows that children should be physically active for at least 60 mins in 24 hours. This is important for their physical, mental and emotional health.
7. Refined products contain traces of chemicals and should be avoided in childhood.
8. Give particular importance to feeding fruits and vegetables. They contain various micronutrients. In my experience, this is a struggle for many parents. But honestly, this has never been the case with any of my two kids.
I made sure that are introduced to all available veggies and fruits from their very childhood. This way, they acquire the taste and smell of the particular items and get used to them. SO introduce these items as soon as possible in their regular diet.
9. Fish is one food item full of omega 3 and protein that is easy to digest and assimilate. If possible, do not miss this in the early years.
10. We all know dairy products are essential. Our general notion is that milk provides calcium, so it’s essential for kids. That is true, but apart from calcium, it contains vitamin D, which helps in the absorption of Calcium in the body. So milk or milk products are an inevitable part of a kids diet.
Milk also has many other nutrients in the form of minerals and vitamins.
A sufficient amount of dairy products is a must for growing kids and teenagers as well. If your child doesn’t like milk, probably he doesn’t like the smell of milk.
Make smoothies and shakes with natural ingredients. Somehow I wouldn’t say I like to give store-bought protein powders, and I believe in making natural food that’s easy on the stomach. But it is up to you.
Curd, cheese, butter and ghee are products children must consume in limited quantities. Milk products like curd and ghee improve gut bacteria and improve digestion.
11. Under no circumstances you should force-feed your Child. Trust me; they will eat if they are hungry, and naturally, they will eat the correct quantity.
I have seen parents try to overfeed their teen child saying that they need more food growing. Do not do this.
Their body will tell them how much to eat. It is the quality of food rather than quantity that matters. If your Child has restricted junk food access, she will eat as much as her body needs. So focus on giving them the kind of food you serve rather than how much they are eating.
The quantity of their food might differ from Child to Child of the same age. Also, for the same Child the quantity differs from day today. So I do not think it makes sense to think about this so much as I see most new parents do.
Unhealthy diet for teenagers and children and how to avoid them
Do you think your child has healthy eating habits or gradually developing one? If you think yes, Try to find out why and how a baby who was just on milk till sometime back started developing a taste for food which is likely to harm.
Media and Your Child
The culprit is very often availability and media promotions for this kind of food. You and I probably had much lesser unhealthy food than this generation.
The generation before us mostly did not have junk food till they were adults. Can you see the pattern here?
As we have access to more marketing and media, children are watching these useless packaged food advertisements. The more they watch these, the more they want them.
As most of this so-called food is so high in sugar, salt, preservatives, taste enhancers and other chemicals, It is effortless for children to get addicted. Once they have, they might discuss with other children who, in turn, try out and vice versa.
There are not many regulations on the marketing of food, especially food sold in the name of kids health. The multi-million dollar food industry takes full advantage of this fact and markets the unhealthiest products as healthy.
7 tips on what parents can do to develop healthy eating habits for teenagers, adolescents and children.
1. Well, we can at least educate our children on the reality and marketing gimmicks.
2. Introduce them to vegetables and fruits of different types very early.
3. Add a limited amount of sugar and salt to their food from the beginning. This way, they naturally find salty and sugary food solid and don’t ask them often.
4. Do not keep them away from these fancy foods, especially if they seem to like them. A pizza, a burger, a candy and all is OK once in a while.
Do not let them crave these so much that they have them without your knowledge while growing up. Set a schedule as to when can they have such things and stick to it.
You will notice, as they grow up and get conscious of their health and body, they will naturally start getting away from such food.
Keep track that your child is not getting addicted to such things.
5. Keep them away from commercially produced fruit juices. Please read the label, and they are self-explanatory as to what they contain.
Would you mind giving them the ones that you feel are OK after reading the ingredients correctly?
6. If you wish, you can also download an app on your phone to track your Child’s nutritional intake each day. It helps keep me on track.
7. Last but not least, keeping yourself sane and away from “too much” is essential. Anything in excess is not good.
Do not get carried away and get too much involved in your Child’s food and health aspects where you start compromising on your fun part of life.
Just keep it simple and observant.
Maintaining correct BMI(Body mass index) while maintaining nutrition for teens, adolescents and children.
It is always wise to keep a weight machine at home and check your Child’s weight once a month. You can calculate her BMI if you know her weight and height.
Body mass Index = weight(in KG)/ Height in meter (Squared).
Alternatively, you can use an app with a BMI calculator or Check on the internet.
Why should we check on BMI besides nutrition for children and teenagers?
Times are changing fast, and with everything modern, the department of food is also getting faster and asking for convenience due to shortage of time. But somehow, in all this, the main factor “nutrition” often gets compromised.
Obesity is becoming common and might lead to various lifestyle diseases in early childhood as well.
Heart diseases, cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and various chronic illnesses can be caused by unmanaged food habits that go out of hand. Not to mention the complications that arise after that.
So keep a watch on the BMI along with nutrition for teenagers, children and toddlers.
5 Myths and facts on diets for teenagers, adolescents and children
As children grow up, especially when they reach adolescence, they naturally become a bit conscious of their looks, weight, clothes, food….almost everything. This is natural at this age.
While all this is happening with your Child and her hormones are on a high, She also tries to get into a diet that helps her lose weight, gets her skin glowing, makes her hair shine so on and so forth.
In all this, she might be trapped into some food myths and so-called diet fads. Below are some myths and facts that you need to correct for your kids when they reach teens.
1. Fad diets can help lose weight
Fad diets can help lose weight quickly, but only for some time. These diets are challenging to follow for long and sometimes may also create nutritional deficiencies and mood swings.
Teach children to focus on nutrition chart of foods for your child and correct calorie intake for their age and activity levels. They need not follow any fad diet.
2. Carbohydrates should be avoided, and they cause weight gain
I don’t exactly know where these things start but, these days, I have seen even children of growing age trying to avoid carbs and trying to compensate with protein.
As a parent and guide, you can teach them the science behind food and that we all need pure carbs in the form of cereals etc., to function.
The body functions its best only when it gets balanced ingredients to function, and carbohydrates are one of them. Limit the intake but do not avoid carbs altogether.
Examples always work well—you and the generation before you are healthier with all the carbs intake.
Carbs give you the energy to function, and your physical abilities depend on carbs to an extent.
3. All Fast foods are unhealthy
In today’s fast-paced world, it is pretty challenging to avoid fast food completely all the time.
I never tell my Child, especially the elder one, not to have fast food. I tell him to read the pack well before deciding what to buy. Over the years, I have trained him to identify chemicals in food labels.
He knows, and I have noticed he usually does not buy junk. He makes better food choices even when he needs to have something in a hurry.
Fruits like banana, orange etc., which can be peeled and eaten instantly, can also be termed fast food, technically correct? Or a pack of roasted peanuts, pumpkin seeds, fresh coconut water, tender coconut all can be choices for fast foods.
More than packaged, I prefer giving them fresh and hot street food. Hot food, most of the time, means germ-free. Just make sure your street food is made in a dust-free zone as much as possible.
But you have to train your Child from toddler age to have these items else they will end up having packaged junk.
One idea that always works is to check for food labels that has expiry date near to the manufacturing date. More shelf life means more preservatives. Teach your Child to read expiry dates and their significance.
4. Skipping Meals
This is not good for children at least. Skipping meals causes extreme mood swings, and kids are unable to concentrate.
Teenagers may try to skip meals at times, but as parents, you need to explain that they will do more harm than good by skipping meals.
It is ok once in a while if they are not hungry during mealtime or their tummy does not feel good, but they should not make this a habit.
5. Exercise alone can help lose weight
The above statement is valid only when coupled with the right food, good calorie intake and the right amount of physical activity.
Exercise is different and should not be confused with physical activity.
More than weight loss, teenagers, adolescents and parents should focus on sustainable weight loss.
Something that’s not sustainable need not be done. Too much fluctuation in weight is no good.
It creates an imbalance in hormones, loosens the skin, confuses your body and the body gets out of its system.
This may even cause depression and other psychological problems in children. It is said that it is 80%diet and 20% exercise that results in maintaining correct BMI and energy levels.
9 Tips to make sure your growing child eats right
1. Always keep water available when they step out. Many times, kids can eat junk feeling they are hungry while they are thirsty.
2. Show them how much they weigh once a month. They should know approximately how much they should weigh at their age and height.
3. Keep a pack of seed-based snacks in their bag. Some good options are:
✓ Dry fruits
✓ Roasted peanuts
✓ Roasted pumpkin/sunflower seeds
✓ A fruit that can be peeled and eaten instantly. Avoid pre-cut fruits.
✓ A homemade wholegrain cake or cookie
✓ A naturally sweetened (like coconut sugar, palm sugar, dates etc.) granola bar.
4. Try to keep the next meal ready in advance.
5. Educate them on food choices from early childhood and why they are so important.
6. Teach them to read packaged food labels, expiry dates etc.
7. Before they step out, make sure they are well hydrated and not empty stomach. This way, they will not crave outside food much.
8. Take them out for any food they prefer once a month. This way they will not feel deprived.
9. Teach them to take control of food by repeating what they need to do once in a while. Children need ongoing work on them at times!
While concluding this article let me remind myself and all of you wonderful parents out there. We are all individuals, and so are our growing babies and kiddos.
Everything works a bit differently for everybody, and you will instinctively know what’s working for you.
The above guidelines may be helpful for you to structure your plan and may work as a reminder on a few things.