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Nutrition tips for kids to stay healthy during Covid-19

Post by on Saturday, July 31, 2021

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, children have been staying at home. The pandemic scenario has cut off kids from social interaction, more of home-schooling, reduced movement (lesser sports activities) and more exposure and dependency on virtual forms of entertainment. Excessive exposure to screen time, and lack of outdoor activities has in turn affected nutritional & health status of children.
You might have noticed certain changes in your child such as a difficult sleeping pattern, craving for certain kinds of foods, an increase in irritability or rejecting foods that they liked before. These changes deeply reflect how their health, growth and development have been affected due to the pandemic.
Food and nutrition plays a very important role in building a healthy immune system. It is very much essential to give equal importance to the food we eat and what we feed our children, especially in these times. Many families today have busy schedules, due to which it is very hard to sit down for homemade meals and many kids' diets involve a lot of inconvenience and take out foods.
Healthy Eating & Lifestyle for children has many benefits:
1. Stabilize their energy
2. Improve their minds
3. Maintain their healthy weight
4. Help prevent mental health conditions. (Anxiety, ADHD)
Below listed, are ways how you can ensure your child eats healthy amidst the covid-19 pandemic:
It is particularly important for young children under the age of 2 years to have a nutritious diet to protect their immunity, and to ensure their future growth and development.
 • CONTINUE TO BREASTFEED: Up until six months of age, breast milk provides all the nutrients that a child needs and protects against illness. At reaching six months of age, breast milk is not enough on its own and a variety of foods need to be introduced to “complement breastmilk”. Breastfeeding is very essential as a source of nutrients and to ensure immunity, so it’s very critical in the first six months of age.
• PROVIDE A VARIETY OF FOODS & REGULAR MEALS Children from six months of age need to eat from atleast four food groups which include – fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses and nuts, animal and dairy products. Feed children (6-8 months of age) two to four times in a day with soft porridges including all the above mentioned foods. Between 9-11 months of age feed children with small cut soft food pieces as able to chew and pureed foods. Between 12-24 months start giving them whole foods and teach them how to eat by themselves.
 Beyond 2 years of age, here is guide on how to ensure your kids practice healthy eating:
1. MAKE MEALTIMES A PRIORITY: Children usually get very cranky or fussy if they don’t eat at their usual times. Sitting down at the table as a family is an important part of establishing healthy eating habits. - Provide your kids with comfort by eating with them - Talk with your kids during mealtimes - Monitor their eating habits - Set an example for your child by eating healthy foods.
2. LIMIT SUGAR INTAKE Majority of foods nowadays have added sugar in them. All the extra amount of sugar just adds up to the calories to our diets. At worst it can lead to hyperactivity, mood disorders, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Tips on reducing the amount of sugar in your children’s diet: - Don’t completely ban sweets – saying your child can never have doughnuts or cakes ever again can create a feeling of cravings. This does not mean consuming lots of sweets on a daily basis, instead teach them how to have a small portion size occasionally. - Modify recipes – Try to add less sugar or find sugar substitutes for recipes and see how your child likes it - Avoid sugary drinks - Have more fruits and vegetables
3. GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED: Have your kids shop for groceries and make them understand the importance of healthy eating. Teach them how to read a food label. Make them fix meals with you. Another fun way to involve your child is to plant a garden. Growing some of your favourite foods like vegetables, fruits and herbs will teach them valuable lessons of life.
4. BE SMART ABOUT FAT Healthy fats are important parts of our diets. They benefit our brain activity, improve mood and keep us full. Make sure your kids are eating the right fat. Healthy fats are unsaturated fats. These are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats – olive oil, nuts, seeds (flaxseeds and walnuts), omega 3 fatty acids – found in fish Unhealthy fats are trans-fat like margarine, processed foods, fried foods, bakery products, lots of packaged food products. Avoid higher quantities of these.
5. MAKE FRUITS AND VEGGIES MORE APPEALING: The goal is to make children consume more fruits and vegetables Here are some ways to do the same:
- Keep fresh fruit and vegetable on hand – Replace salty and sweet foods with a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Let kids choose when shopping for fruits and vegetables.
 - Hide veggies in any other forms of food – kids usually hate certain vegetables – include them in any foods in hidden form
 - Make fruits and vegetable food meals more fun
Important things to Consider:
? Expose your children to different kinds & variety of foods at an early age
? Don’t force them to eat – don’t make your child clean the plate. They need to listen to their bodies – space out meals and make sure they don’t over eat
? Skip the food reward- when you use food as reward or to show affection, your child could start using food to cope with their emotions – instead give them hugs, praise, attention or time- together
? Focus on overall diet – instead of focusing on specific foods, focus on eating patterns, provide as many as whole – minimally processed foods as you can. Avoid packaged and processed foods
? Put limits on their screen time – when you put healthy limits and boundaries to TV, computer or video games your child will find something more active to do. Snacking while watching screen will lead to more mindless eating and overeating
? Make sure they consume lots of water throughout the day and involve themselves in activities at home
“Teach children to express gratitude to food that they eat and always keep the meal time happy”

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