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Nutrients – Increased Need

Energy: –

  • Growth progresses gradually between 1 to 6 years of life and thus his energy requirement increases.
  • Development of full dentition is observed by about 2 years of old.
  • An overall good nutrition within the kind of small energy dense meals should be ideally charted out for a growing preschooler.
  • Insufficient intake of food won’t only lead to poor weight gain but will hamper growth to a great extent.
  • This may later affect development of cognitive skills and learning, while children face academic challenges in class.

Protein: –

  • Bone growth, growth of muscle mass paves way for increased demands for protein.
  • An increase in total body size during preschool years, hemoglobin formation also requires adequate amount of protein.
  • A protein intake of 1.5 to 2g/kg weight is crucial during this era.

Fat: –

  • The fat intake should be around 25 g per day which takes care of the high energy density of the diet.

Vitamins and Minerals: –

  • The RDI of minerals like calcium and phosphorus should be around 400 mg each.
  • Low calcium intake can affect the bones of the growing children adversely.
  • The diet of a preschooler should include around two glasses of milk every day.
  • Milk also contains ergocalciferol that aids in calcium absorption.
  • Preschoolers are in danger of developing anemia because of dietary insufficiency in the middle of hookworm infestation.
  • Thus, child’s diet should be sufficiently rich in iron.
  • Supplement an iron rich diet with nutrient like ascorbic acid to facilitate iron absorption.
  • The incidence of fat-soluble Vitamin A deficiency symptoms is especially high in Indian preschool children whose dietary intake is a smaller amount than 100 mcg.
  • As per the ICMR, the daily allowances of fat-soluble vitamin A that are recommended for a preschooler is about 400 mcg.
  • A child whose diet lacks in this fat-soluble vitamin A for a much longer period is at major risk of developing black spots, visual impairment and should be in severe cases total blindness also.

Recommended Dietary Allowances for Preschool Children:

In every 3 preschool children two are malnourished in India. There may be many underlying reasons for youngsters consuming insufficient meals. This might thereby affect their nutritional status and thus growth. Illnesses include:

Infectious diseases and customary illnesses like diarrhea, measles, respiratory disease & other respiratory infections.

  • This is because; an illness curbs the appetite successively reducing the food intake for days at a stretch. Absorption of food is hindered; nutrient reserves of the body get depleted. More calories get burned during fever leading to frequent weight loss.
  • Other factors that might be equally contributing would be poverty or ignorance about the key role of fine nutrition in every child’s life.
  • Overindulging in play and other activities that leaves no time for correct nutrient dense meals well-spaced within the day. A child’s food preferences and environment at home.

Constipation: –

Due to frequent food jags; children may most of the time skip eating fruits and veggies completely.

They are also not ready to sip water throughout the day.

Apart from this, they will even be glued to the packet of chips most of the time.

This type of faulty eating regime thereby promotes Constipation problems in preschoolers.

Dental problems: –

  • Dental caries is most observed in children at around this age.
  • This in specific due to high consumption of sticky, gooey candies, and sweets.
  • The longer the tooth gets exposed to the sugar within the sweets, the greater the cariogenic effect graduates.
  • Children should thus be taught to ape the habit of brushing their teeth twice daily.
  • They should be encouraged to munch on raw crisp foods like chunks of apple/ pear, cucumber or carrots within the day.

DIETARY GUIDELINES

  • The calcium requirements of the preschoolers need to be met through milk and milk products in their meals. Around 175ml to 200 ml of a milk-based recipe like porridge/ smoothie to be included within the breakfast. Some amounts can be incorporated in forms like curds/ custard /paneer/pudding/low-fat cheese, even tofu.
  • Make sure, you don’t make use of sugar-coated cereals for porridges. Add jaggery to sweet preparations and honey to porridges. Thus, making minimal use of sweetener.
  • Always prepare meals out of fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t go for ready-to-eat and instant preparations available in the market. These convenience foods may lay aside on it to slow your time, but they weigh poorly on the nutritional scale. Besides, they are chock stuffed with artificial preservatives, coloring agents, milk solids, and additives which do no good to your child’s health.
  • Many children might not wish to eat everything that is being served to them. But you must still aim to chart out a balanced meal in simple innovative ways.

2 Comments

  1. Concentrated focus must be made in delivering quality food, rich in nutrition with a balanced macro and micronutrient profile to Preschool children in India and North America.

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