Families have great responsibilities to ensure that children who spend most of the year at home and whose diets are disrupted due to the pandemic, are fed properly during their return to school. Muratbey Nutrition Consultant Prof. Dr. Muazzez Garipağaoğlu stated that families should pay more attention to proper and quality nutrition for their children who go to school.
The pandemic has negatively affected children as well as adults. As a result of the changing eating habits of the children who spent more time at home, their body balances also deteriorated. During this period, some children gain weight; some lost weight and their growth was stunted. Muratbey Nutrition Consultant Prof. Dr. Muazzez Garipağaoğlu emphasized that parents should be conscious about nutrition for a healthy and happy future.
Children should be fed appropriately for their age.
Stating that adequate and balanced nutrition practices are possible with a kitchen where fresh, natural and various kinds of foods are consumed, Garipağaoğlu said, “Malnutrition, known as malnutrition among the people, and obesity, known as obesity, are threats to child health all over the world, including our country. are the two most important issues. Prevention or treatment of both problems can be possible with age-appropriate and high-quality nutrition. It is known that malnourished children start school later than their well-nourished peers, fail at school, answer tests later, are tired, anemic and have weak immune systems. In addition to insulin resistance, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular, fatty liver, orthopedic and skin problems, psychological problems such as not participating in games and low self-esteem are observed in obese children. In order to prevent these problems, parents should be conscious of their children's age-appropriate nutrition, especially portion control. In order to protect children from obesity, it is recommended to consume 5 portions of vegetables and fruits, 2 hours of screen time (Computer, TV), 1 hour of physical activity and sugar-free beverages. It is known that children who do not leave the house and do not move are not able to benefit from the sun's rays and therefore vitamin D, and this situation negatively affects the bone development of children. Many of these problems encountered in childhood are also reflected in adulthood.
Foods enriched with vitamin D should be on our tables
Garipağaoğlu, who made suggestions about child nutrition during the school period, said, “There are 4 food groups: milk, meat, bread-cereal, vegetables-fruits in order to have a sufficient and balanced diet. Children should consume different foods from these 4 food groups every day, at every meal if possible, in age-appropriate amounts. Among the food groups, the foods in the milk group, which is the main source of calcium as well as high-quality protein, strengthen the bones and support height growth. For this, 2-3 glasses of milk-yoghurt and 1-2 slices of cheese should be consumed during pre-school and school years, 3-4 glasses of milk-yogurt and 2-3 slices of cheese should be consumed during adolescence. It is recommended that foods be enriched with vitamin D against vitamin D deficiency, which is one of the most common health problems in the world, including our country, in recent years. In our country, there are shaped cheeses enriched with vitamin D that children can consume with pleasure. It is important and necessary that the foods in the milk group are included in almost all meals of children.
Meat group foods prevent anemia, support growth
The foods in the meat group, which are rich in important minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and high quality protein, prevent anemia and support growth and development. In order to have a healthy diet, 2-3 meatball measures per day during pre-school and school years, and 3-5 meatball measures during adolescence are sufficient to consume meat, chicken or fish. Instead of meat, chicken and fish, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, broad beans, beans, peas and black-eyed peas can be eaten 1-2 times a week. Eggs can be eaten once a day in kitchens where there is no or little animal food, and 1-4 times a week if animal foods are consumed adequately.
Bread and cereals, the main source of energy
Foods in the bread and cereal group are the main source of energy. In addition, they constitute a rich source of B group vitamins, B1 (Thiamine) and fiber, which feed our nervous system. For this reason, natural, brown bread varieties and/or substitutes such as rice, bulgur, pasta, noodles and potatoes should be present in every age group and every meal in appropriate amounts for the child's age. Consumption of unprocessed, natural foods in the bread and cereal group is important for health.
Fruits should be eaten as fruits
Foods in the vegetable-fruit group, which are rich in vitamins and fiber, are not liked by children and therefore they are the least consumed foods. Children do not like mixed vegetable dishes and salads. For this reason, making cooked vegetables from a single variety and offering the raw vegetables sliced to the child increases edibility. 1-2 medium-sized or 2 bowls of fruit consumed daily is sufficient for preschool and school children. During adolescence, the amount of fruit can be increased by 1-2 servings depending on age, gender and physical activity. The fruit should be eaten as a fruit and the juice should not be consumed frequently, even if it is fresh.
Enjoy meal times with family
prof. Garipağaoğlu continued his suggestions with the following words: “Meal order is one of the important components of healthy eating habits. 3 meals arranged as breakfast, lunch and dinner are not enough for children. In order for children to meet their daily energy and nutritional needs, snacks such as mid-morning and afternoon are needed. Preschool children with small stomach capacities are fed 5-6 meals a day. Children learn by imitating what they see, not what is told. For this reason, parents and other persons responsible for the care of the child should set an example for the child by eating right. Now, products such as fun cheeses in different shapes, enriched with vitamin D, which are produced to strengthen children's immunity and support their healthy diet, can be easily found.
In order for children to gain healthy eating habits, care should be taken not to skip meals, to eat together with family members if possible, to prepare fun plates for children, and to ensure that meal times are a pleasant part of the day.