Early childhood, which includes the preschool stage (2–5 years), is the phase of physical, emotional, and mental development and forms the foundation for the child’s future well-being. Adequate and wholesome nutrition plays a vital role during this stage. The kinds of food your pre-schooler eats, and drinks are important for his or her health.
Young children are growing rapidly and typically engage in relatively moderate to high levels of physical activity. Therefore, they have energy requirements that are high in comparison to their small size and stomach capacity. Eating nutrient dense regular meals and small snacks during the day is the key to healthy eating and ensures the child gets the much needed nourishment to support their growth & development during this phase.
A nutrient-dense diet that provides for proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins & minerals can be vital to keeping your child in the pink of health. Here is why they are important:
Function of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are major sources of energy for you child. Carbohydrates may be either complex or simple. While complex carbohydrates are found in cereals, millets, pulses and root vegetables; simple carbohydrates are present in honey, fruits and sugar. Diet rich in complex carbohydrates are healthy and provide the fibre important for healthy digestion. Simple carbohydrates commonly present in jams, ice creams and sugar sweetened beverages provide “empty calories” (only energy and low on other nutrients) and are less nutritious.
Functions of Protein
Proteins are essential for growing children. It is needed for the formation of body cells, skin, cartilage and muscles. Proteins perform a large number of functions in the body including their secondary function of providing energy.
Functions of Fats
Oils and fats such as butter, ghee and vanaspati constitute dietary visible fats. Fats are a concentrated source of energy providing 9 kcal/g. Fats serve as a vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K and carotenes and promote their absorption. They are also sources of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fats also acts like cushion for certain vital organs in the body. The layer of fat beneath the skin helps to conserve body heat and regulate body temperature. The flavour, palatability and satiety value of foods is increased by fats.
Functions of Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins & Minerals are needed to help support the growth & development of your child’s bones, teeth, muscles and other body functions. They also help in maintaining the structure of skin, bones and build cognitive functions. These must be present in the diet to help the child achieve their milestones for this stage.