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Just as a potter molds the pot according to his wish, similarly any individual is molded in his or her childhood, so if you seriously want your little munchkin to be fit and healthy in future then you must take care of his nutrition “today”.
A person is most vulnerable in all aspects mentally, physically, emotionally & socially during his/her childhood. Thus this tender period must be taken care of. Although all aspects are important during this phase and the damage is indeed difficult to compensate in later stages, still nutritional balance is the most essential aspect of childhood as it lays the foundation of future health.
How your child eats today will have a striking impact on his health throughout the period of adolescence and adulthood. It is thus essential for them to consume nutritious food as it helps them grow properly, develop, do well academically and above all feel good about themselves. Ample nutrition also help in preventing issues in their later age such as eating disorders, obesity, dental cavities, iron¬deficiency anemia, poor cognitive development etc.
Here we talk about quality nutrition (and not just quantity); fostering good eating habits and providing healthy, nutrient¬dense food choices is not only essential for them but also it’s our responsibility as parent.
Nutrition is important especially in early life as it has indispensable role in overall development of a child.
Undoubtedly kids are known to be the most active creatures of the universe and their constant activeness helps them develop muscles, bones, coordination and mental abilities.
To our surprise usually the stomach of a toddler is only as large as his fist, so it fills quickly. Thus they can hold less food and that too for lesser period of time. One good option is to allow them to feed throughout the day (but at regular intervals) from tiny trays. Their plate may contain various healthy snacks, including grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, ground meats (or good vegetarian sources) and most importantly nutrient¬dense, high-calorie choices. It is our liability to limit (or totally restrict) calorie-dense beverages & fast foods including packed ones.
It starts with womb. It is well known fact that malnutrition during pregnancy affects a child's cognitive development. But the initial years are responsible for their later age. Nutritional deficiencies can particularly affect brain growth during the first few years of life. For instance, iron deficiency leads to learning difficulties as well as growth and behavior problems. Consuming less iron than recommended quantity can cause anemia, which results in insufficient oxygen reaching all parts of the body.
Toddler diets can be deficient in iron, DHA and other minerals especially if they drink too much milk (which is low in these nutrients). In fact, normally DHA is not present in daily diet and hence should be taken from health drinks that contain these smart nutrients.
Insufficient consumption of vitamin C foods can impair iron absorption. Egg yolks, broccoli and tofu are among the foods which are known to provide choline, a nutrient that aids memory and helps the brain communicate with the body.
Nothing can replace healthy solid food, however if you feel that there is a huge gap in the required nutrients and the actual intake, it is alright (I would say recommended) to use a good nutritional supplement in any form (milk based, syrup form etc.) to fill the gap. Do not hesitate to inquire about the same with your pediatrician.
Chronic Disease Prevention
Childhood is the period when future health is decided for a person. If we want to prevent diseases in our teens, then we must take actions now in their childhood. We must develop a pattern of making healthy dietary choices in our children in order to avoid obesity. Obesity has a multi system effect and is connected to majority of health problems, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and osteoarthritis.
Inadequate nutrition is associated with menstrual irregularities, poor bone health with increased risk of injuries, poor academic performance and increased risk of eating disorders.
Being a mother of a fussy eater, I can understand how difficult it is to feed them. Yet it is our responsibility to lay a healthy and strong foundation for their tomorrow.
Do not forget that right start is a must for right growth.
Happy feeding and happy parenting!