Different nutrients are needed for a balanced diet. Nutrients are made up of Macronutrients (big) which are essentially carbohydrates, fats and proteins and Micronutrients (small) which are vitamins and minerals. Different foods have different micronutrients and macronutrients.
Staying hydrated is important to ensure all our nutrients are absorbed properly. Dehydration causes fatigue and lack of concentration. In general, children should aim to drink about 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to in addition to what is obtained through diet i.e. soups
School lunches should be nutritionally balanced, they should include at least three food groups. (Fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy/ calcium- rich foods). Unhealthy lunch habits decrease brain power and can cause memory loss. Foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt should be kept to a minimum. Many children experience fatigue after lunch. High-protein lunches appear to produce greater alertness and more focused attention.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are packed with different vitamins and minerals (micro) which are all essential in different ways. Fruit and vegetables are also a good source of dietary fibre which is important for our digestive health and regulates bowl movements. Including more fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced diet will help your children grow and develop, improve vitality and prevent a range of chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer in later life. It can be difficult to get some kids to eat the recommended “five a day” of fruit and veg. Research has shown that the more fruit and vegetables are available and easily accessible for children, the more likely they are to eat them. Therefore, if fruit is chopped up and ready to eat, children will eat more of them. Providing a variety of different fruits and vegetables is one way to encourage your children towards healthy eating habits, however you must be patient. There is some evidence that children need to try new fruits and vegetables up to eight or nine times before they are liked or accepted. Being creative in the way you serve up fruit and vegetables can help. For example, prepare vegetables in different ways to vary the texture such as raw, microwaved, mashed, baked, and grated into a casserole, blended up as a pasta sauce or as a soup.
To be continued…next week
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Find us on Facebook.