The ideal food for children

It is clear that children are the adults of the future, which is why laying the foundations of good nutrition in childhood will lead to healthier adults in the next generation. This can be achieved in two ways, one because a healthy and well fed child forges the basis of a healthy adult and also because a child educated in good nutritional habits is accompanied by a person educated on the basis of good customs and habits of life helping to create an adult with a healthy behavior that will be able to transmit their good habits to the next generations.

The ideal nutrition in childhood is a varied and complete balanced diet, so that it provides the necessary nutrients for the development and growth of children.

The much talked about “Mediterranean diet” is very healthy because it is rich in highly recommended basic foods such as olive oil, legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and sausages such as Iberian ham.

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Actually, there is no specific food known to improve memory. What is certain is that there are nutrients that are consumed in neuronal activity and that their deficit manifests itself in memory disorders, as in the case of iron deficiency anemia, whose symptoms include fatigue and memory lapses, among others. Other minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, selenium and unsaturated fatty acids also influence memory. All these nutrients can be found in cereals, red and green vegetables, and dried fruits.

  • Which foods for children help to increase stamina and energy?

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The foods considered as plastic or energetic are proteins. Eggs are the most complete food in vitamins, minerals and energetic nutrients. Fish is also a good source of healthy and recommendable proteins in the diet, but usually the most used sources are meat, milk and its derivatives.

An important and recommendable characteristic of the Mediterranean diet is the contribution of vegetable proteins with legumes, a great source of energy with proteins, minerals and fiber.

  • How does diet influence the development of creativity?

Creativity is developed through children’s education, but it can be stimulated through food if they are taught to use their imagination both when preparing a recipe, combining foods with different flavors, textures and colors, and when presenting the prepared dish, making it more interesting and attractive to the eye, making drawings and figures that are fun for them.

  • Healthy breakfasts for children, what should they include?

Scientific studies have shown that breakfast is one of the main meals of the day and should contain between 25 and 35% of the daily nutritional intake. There is evidence that an adequate breakfast contributes to improved school performance. To make breakfast healthy, several types of basic nutrients are needed, such as carbohydrates, provided by fruits (better natural and fresh than packaged juice), and cereals (better if they are wholemeal and varied).

Another basic staple is plastic foods with protein, such as milk and its derivatives (yogurts and fresh cheeses, which can be cow’s milk, soy, vegetable or hydrolyzed). If a more consistent breakfast is desired, eggs can be added as a complete nutritional contribution.

  • Is the snack at recess a complement to breakfast? What is the ideal thing to take to school?

The morning snack at recess serves to complete the breakfast. There are children who have a bad breakfast because they are slow to get going or are overwhelmed by eating breakfast in a hurry or under pressure, and there are even some who wake up without an appetite. That is why the morning snack can be very helpful for children with these problems. They could take more varied foods, such as milk derivatives, natural juices, fruits or cereal bars. The type of complement to the breakfast depends on the schedule of the lunch, the physical activity that develops, the time of the year and the ages of the children.

  • And the snack, do we give it the importance it deserves, and should it vary depending on whether or not the children do extracurricular activities?

The snack is more important than it seems, it would almost be more advisable to have a strong dinner snack and then a lighter dinner. It is recommended that the snack contributes 15 to 20% of the total caloric value of the day’s diet. It must be taken into account that lunch in the school schedule is quite early and if they have not eaten very well at school lunch, they leave school with a big appetite. This is the time to take advantage of the nutrients that may have been lacking throughout the day. A good sandwich of bread with tomato and ham, cheese with anchovies, tuna with tomato, fresh cream cheese with olives, and some fruit can be a great snack, always better than industrial pastries.

  • Differences between the nutritional needs of children, adolescents and adults.

Nutritional needs are usually measured in calories per day. A child, depending on age, may need from 1200 to 1800 kcal/day. The adolescent who is in full growth and develops more physical activity usually needs, depending on whether female or male, about 1800 – 3000 kcal/day. On the other hand, for adults who lead a more sedentary life and need less caloric intake, it is also variable with sex and age. A diet of 1800 to 3000 kcal/day is recommended. It is always considered that the diet must be individualized for each case.

  • Most common mistakes in infant feeding

The most common mistake is the use of so-called junk foods, because they do not provide any beneficial nutrients and are empty calories. These are found in sweetened beverages such as soft drinks or juices, industrial pastries, snacks and industrial fried foods, as well as foods containing flavorings and preservatives. These types of foods are not recommended for both children and adults.

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Another frequent error in our environment is the diet with excess protein, when what should abound are fruits and vegetables.

  • Do children and adolescents drink enough water?

The daily fluid needs of children are above one liter of water per day, while in adolescents and adults the need is around 1.5 to 2 liters per day. Fluid and water intake also comes through the water content of food.

The recommended amount of water per day is 75% of the total daily fluid intake. Because of this, it is advisable to eat with water and after sports and with the increase of physical activity, or if it is very hot, it is necessary to give a supplementary contribution of water, even water with ions such as that provided by serums or isotonic drinks.

  • What foods should we exclude from the diet of children?

In children’s diets and those of adolescents we should exclude alcohol and excitants. Another type of food that we should try to avoid in diets are junk foods with empty calories and unhealthy preservatives or flavorings. That alerts their appetite and favors obesity.

  • What exactly is meant by ration?

A ration is a portion of food or a nutrient that varies according to the objective to be met in the diet. For example, the recommended portion of meat or fish in the diet of a child from 1 to 2 years old is 50 to 75 gr daily, and in the adolescent the recommended portion would be 120 to 150 gr daily.

Nowadays in schools they teach children to “Eat healthy” and an easy way to make them understand it is with the “Rule of the 5 portions”. This is that the recommendation in fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet is 5 servings a day, divided in two ways: 3 servings of fruit and 2 of vegetables or the alternative of 2 fruit and 3 vegetables a day. In this case a serving of fruit is a piece such as an apple or a banana and the daily serving of heavy raw vegetables is 150 to 200 grams, which can be distributed and taken in salads, as a main dish, in creams or soups or also as a garnish.