What is the right age to start on a Nutrition Plan

 What is the right age to start on a Nutrition Plan

We have always grown up hearing our moms saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ in order to make us eat fruits. Camouflaging vegetables by adding them in our chapatis or dals was another method to make sure we ate small portions of vegetables as well. We all are well versed with the concept of a balanced diet that includes all nutrients in required portions in order to provide correct nutrition to the body in order to maintain good health. But as we use the term balanced nutrition so freely, do we know what a balanced diet actually means?

A balanced diet is a diet which provides all the nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in appropriate proportions as required by the body. All these nutrients have specific roles to play in the body and hence are very essential for proper growth and development of an individual. As per the best nutritionist in Kolkata carbohydrates are the most important nutrient that helps to provide energy to the body. It also helps in proper utilization and absorption of fats and proteins for building and repairing muscles. Proteins are considered as the building blocks of the body and hence are important for building cells and muscles. Fats are also a great source of energy for the body and are essential for the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. Minerals such as calcium are important for healthy bones and teeth, iron helps to enhance oxygen supply in the body by boosting the hemoglobin. Vitamins such as B vitamins help to make red blood cells and support various metabolic activities; vitamin c helps to strengthen blood vessels, gums, heals cuts and wounds, prevents coughs, colds, fights infections and boosts immunity. Fiber helps to aid proper digestion.

Understanding various nutrients and their functions does not ensure a balanced diet unless the diet is planned keeping in mind an individual’s body requirement at that particular age along with their taste and dietary preferences. Walking on the path of good health is a journey that yields the best results when started at an early age. Since the day of conception, every parent plans for the good health of their child; however, planning a diet can be a great challenge. Children are usually adamant and do not like change but it is important to ensure healthy food habits are taught to them at an early age since those habits last a lifetime and help them to shape into healthy adults. According to the best nutritionist in Mumbai, a child’s plate should be as colourful as possible and different colours represent a variety of nutrients ensuring a healthy nutritious meal. Additionally, understanding the child’s body type and composition in terms of his / her genetics can act as an added advantage since those results could be incorporated into the child’s diet and prevent him from developing various metabolic conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol, hypothyroidism, hypertension, etc. 

A well balanced nutritious meal planned specifically for a child based on his body requirements would ensure proper growth and development. Various studies and researches have shown that children who follow a proper diet since childhood have a lesser chance of developing high cholesterol and blood pressure problems. Furthermore, other conditions such as low iron levels causing lower hemoglobin levels, weak muscles, high fat percentage, dental cavities, gut problems could also be avoided with the correct nutrition at the correct time.  Being able to maintain energy levels throughout the day and actively participate in various activities and games is also an added advantage of following a properly planned and calculated diet, especially if your child is interested in a sport, it is highly important to ensure good height with strong muscles and a lower fat percentage to support his performance.

In this time where obesity is on the rise and is negatively affecting lives of not just adults but also children, it is important to take proper guidance and maintain a healthy body from a young age. Obesity has become a common problem seen among kids due to advancement in technology that promotes a more sedentary lifestyle. The obese kids usually grow up to become obese adults accompanied by various complications brought in by obesity. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol problems are among the few and common metabolic conditions that are seen in every second person. Consuming  a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fiber can help keep your weight under check. Also, devoting at least an hour of physical activity helps to accelerate the rate of weight loss. Children should be encouraged to spend more time outside the house in playgrounds and courts to stay physically active. 

Additionally, the importance of balanced nutrition at an early age is not only understanding what your meal should look like but is also to understand when to eat and in how much quantity. It is important to teach the kid when to eat and how much to eat, what kind of food items to munch on. Also, embedding the habit of not skipping any meals, particularly breakfast, needs to be taught at an early age.  Breakfast serves as the most important meal of the day as it breaks the fast between the dinner and the first meal in the morning. It also gives the metabolism a jump start and prevents it from becoming sluggish. Sluggish metabolism has been linked with various conditions such as obesity and insulin resistance. Hence, understand the importance of not skipping meals and consuming meals at short and frequent intervals help to lead a healthy life. Furthermore, kids usually have a small stomach and are not able to eat big portions at a time. Hence they need to be fed at small intervals. Feeding them with varieties in recipes can help to develop their taste buds towards various food items. It should also be ensured that the meal included various colours, a colourful meal ensures a variety of nutrients are incorporated in their diet.

Therefore, while planning a diet for kids, it is not just important to understand nutrition but also to understand their daily requirements. There are a lot of diets and guidelines available on the internet but not every kid is the same; hence it is very important that parents work closely with a nutritionist to plan their kids’ diet that is rich in all the vital nutrients that are important for their proper growth and development.

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