A balanced diet for preschool children

Proper nutrition is the consumption of such an amount of nutrients with the right calorific value and nutritional value, which condition the maintenance of a healthy body weight and proper functioning of the body.

A properly balanced diet is intended to cover the needs of a preschool child for essential nutrients, energy and vitamins. This demand is determined by nutrition standards, which take into account the BMI index, as well as the level of physical activity as well as the needs related to development and growth rate. Pre-school age is characterized by active development, both physical and mental, and it is therefore important to ensure that sufficient amounts of energy and nutrients are supplied.

Particular attention should be paid to food products containing in their composition protein with high biological activity, calcium, iron and vitamins. This protein is best served in the form of milk and its various products, lean cottage cheese, fish. In order to maintain proper metabolic processes, the body should be provided with a certain amount of water, which facilitates the transport of nutrients, and also helps to excrete unnecessary metabolic products in the urine.

The energy that should be obtained after consuming products delivered during the day is 1400 kcal for this age group.

The distribution of meals during the day:

  • breakfast - 25% (approx. 320 kcal)
  • lunch - 30% (approx. 500 kcal)
  • afternoon tea - 10 % (approx. 140 kcal)
  • 2nd afternoon tea - 10% (approx. 140 kcal)
  • dinner - 25 % (approx. 320 kcal)

Nutrition pyramid

According to the recommendations of the Institute of Food and Nutrition, the child should eat products from each group presented in the healthy eating pyramid every day. This pyramid illustrates the proportions between the various groups of products in the diet.

The different levels of the pyramid are interpreted as follows:

  • Products at the bottom of the pyramid - cereal products, vegetables, fruit should be included in the daily menu for the most part.
  • Food at higher levels should also be consumed daily, but in smaller amounts.
  • It is absolutely necessary to limit sugar, sweets, animal fats, products containing a lot of cholesterol, isomers of trans-unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Drinking enough water and limiting salt intake.

The groups of products presented in the pyramid are:

Grain products - at least 5 servings a day. From this group, you should choose those with coarse regrind. In addition to whole grain bread, we also recommend whole grain paddy rice, buckwheat and barley groats and wholemeal pasta. Cereal products are the main source of energy for the body, they are a rich source of fiber that regulates the functioning of the intestines, they contain many minerals and vitamins. Coarse-milled products are richer in nutrients because they contain more vitamins, especially B vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, the consumption of which is important in preventing diseases caused by poor nutrition.

Vegetables and fruits - served with each meal. The daily menu should include green vegetables: lettuce, spinach, broccoli, as well as orange vegetables: carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin and fruit. Depending on the season, they can be fresh or frozen or dried. Fruit juices are recommended mainly unsweetened, or - if they are high in sugar - diluted with water. This group of products provides minerals, vitamins and flavonoids as well as antioxidant vitamins (C, E, carotenes) with anti-atherosclerotic and anti-cancer properties. Dietary fiber contained in vegetables and fruits has a positive effect on the functioning of the digestive tract. It should be noted, however, that fruit and fruit juices contain large amounts of simple sugars, the consumption of which should be limited, so you should be inclined to eat more vegetables than fruit, and choose vegetable or fruit and vegetable juices as well as unsweetened fruit teas.

Milk and dairy products - these are products containing large amounts of calcium, an element necessary for building healthy bones and teeth. No food product contains as much easily digestible calcium as milk and its products. Milk also contains vitamins A, D, B2 and the highest quality protein. In order to meet the demand for calcium, children should drink about 700 ml of milk a day or replace a part of it with dairy products, e.g. yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, as well as cottage cheese or yellow rennet cheese.

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs and pulses, and nuts - meat products, fish and eggs provide wholesome protein, iron, zinc and vitamins from the group. Legume seeds and nuts as a source of wholesome protein and many valuable minerals and vitamins are included in the group of meat products. Children should consume 2 servings of these products daily. Choose lean species from meat products, and fish, due to the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids from the omega-3 group and vitamin D, to species containing more fat: mackerel, sardines, etc. When processing meat and fish, it is recommended to cook and roast and stewing hand in hand.

Fats - most of the fat in the diet should come from fish, nuts and vegetable fats. Vegetable oils are recommended - rapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, olive oil. They should be added to the dishes. For frying, use rapeseed oil and olive oil.

It should be added that from all product groups we should always choose those that are lean, and limit products containing large amounts of cholesterol, e.g. offal and isomers of trans-unsaturated fatty acids - confectionery, pastry, hard margarines, chips, fast food.

The child should eat 4-5 meals a day.

A child attending kindergarten should eat a small breakfast at home - half a glass of warm milk, a cup of warm cocoa, milk soup, etc. Nutrition in kindergarten should cover approx. 70% of the daily norm recommended for a child of this age. After returning home from kindergarten, he should eat a wholesome dinner containing products from the above-mentioned. groups.

Małgorzata Krawczuk

Dietitian of the Orange Train Nursery

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