Foundations for a Lifetime of Health
As children get older, they have an increasing amount of freedom over food choice and often eat outside the home. Outside factors such as peer pressure and advertising also start to play their part helping them create an opinion about certain foods.
Although growth is slower than in infancy or early childhood, school-aged children still have high nutritional needs, but fairly small appetites. Therefore, it is crucial that all meals and snacks are nutrient-rich. Falling activity levels and rising levels of obesity become a concern at this stage. It is important to impart healthy eating behavior during these crucial years of development since this will set a pattern for the future.
Encourage your child to be as active as possible. For children in this stage, the influence of friends and peers is important and they prefer to eat what their friends eat. Children of this age may favor non-nutritious snacks. If your child is putting on too much weight, educate him about the ill effects of obesity and encourage him to get involved in physical activities in some form (football, netball, walking the dog, cycling, swimming, etc). Prepare meals and snacks based on the five main food groups, with limited fatty and sugary ingredients. Even if a child is overweight, he still needs a nutrient-packed diet providing essential building blocks for growth and development. Just make sure you replace fatty snacks for healthier ones.
If your child picks at his food and doesn’t seem to be hungry despite an increase in activity, he may be a picky eater.
Most children in this age group eat one major meal at home and a packed lunch at school. Their packed school lunch should include a:
Snacks are an important part of your child's food intake for energy and nutrients. Be sure to keep the following on hand:
"The way I show love is to feed my family well."
- Mother of three grown daughters
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