Calories – These are just what they need to fuel the body for energy to take part in sports events and recreational activities. If your child easily gets bored at mealtimes, try feeding them smaller amounts but more frequently to ensure they have plenty to keep them going.
Carbohydrates provide glucose to the brain to help youngsters improve their memory span and concentration. Give them enough and they could be coming top of the class every time. Carbs are found in bread, pasta and fruit among other foods.
Protein counts towards building muscles and bone growth. Kids aged five to eight need 19g and those aged 9-12 benefit from 34g daily, so make a note to drastic difference. Feed them lean red meat, chicken, fish and eggs to get them stronger.
Children four years old and above need essential fats, and 25 to 35 percent of their daily calorie intake should come from vegetable oils, avocados, legumes, nuts and seeds. While these are more difficult to squeeze into a child’s meals, there are plenty of sneaky recipes you can try. For example, smash avocado into macaroni cheese, sweet potatoes or use as a dip.
To build strong bones and teeth make sure they get enough calcium in their diet – paired with Vitamin D to help absorb - from early on, as a deficiency in youth means that bone density suffers and the risk of fractures increase. Flavoured milk is a great source of calcium.
For a healthy immune system iron and Vitamin C are very important. The minerals also count towards physical and cognitive performance. Oranges, kiwis, broccoli and peas are packed full of Vitamin C, while beans, chicken and even fortified breads, pastas and cereals are a great way of getting that iron intake.
In regular terms this is what a child’s plate should look like according to Sarah Kanaan, Child Nutrition expert at Nestlé Middle East.
‘As a general guide, fill up half of your child’s plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it with proteins, a quarter with grains and partner that up with a glass of fortified milk such as Nestlé Nido Fortified with Fortigrow,’ she explains.