Feeding our Future

Philips Mother and Child

With National Nutrition Week taking place from the 9th – 15th October, the spotlight turns to food and with this year’s theme, breakfast – the best way to start your day. Eating breakfast regularly has many health benefits, and as parents and role models we need to promote healthy eating and nutritional habits to our children.

Of course, the first few years of life is a prime time for growth and changes throughout your little one’s body which means that proper nutrition during this time is critical as it strongly affect their long-term body weight, health, metabolic programming and immune system. The need a good balance of nutrients and protein to keep them active and, if they are attending pre-school, making sure they have good balanced diet for both physical and mental development.

However, understandably, mornings can be a rush and it can be hard to keep on track and make appetizing breakfasts. In fact, globally, up to 30% children, adolescents and adults regularly skip breakfast. And with excuses from ‘I don’t feel like eating’ to ‘I don’t like that’ can make breakfast seem more like a chore, rather than an enjoyable part of the family routine.

So here are some tips, to start the day right:

  • Plan for breakfasts – draw up a meal plan and prep the night before if possible.
  • Keep it simple – breakfast doesn’t have to be a lavish affair; rather stick to the foods that the family likes and is easy and quick to prepare.
  • Ensure there’s a varied diet – a diet that contains all the five food groups is vital for children. Fruit and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fruit at breakfast and vegetables and fruit at the other two main meals is important. Toddlers should also have 5 or more portions of fresh, frozen, tinned or dried fruit per day. Toddlers naturally like foods high in fat and/or sugar but they should be kept to a minimum.
  • Convenience vs wholesome –  convenience foods and ready meals are best given sparingly, unless they are specially made for young children. Healthy, wholesome family food is the best option. It’s nutritious and economical.
  • Family time – encourage the family to eat breakfast together so that little ones will learn from copying their parents and older siblings and that it’s used as positive family time before the day starts.
  • Stick to routine – a daily routine should be designed. A calm, relaxed environment without distractions such as TV, games and toys encourages positive breakfast eating habits.

Your little ones are advancing in age and during this time you can expect to see changes not only in their physical growth and motor development, but also intellectual, social, and emotional changes and its critical to create balanced meal plans for them – starting with the most important one of the day – breakfast.

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