As kids progress from precocious toddlers to active youngsters, it gets increasingly difficult for mums and dads to monitor whether their children are consuming a healthy, balanced diet.
Parents cannot be absolutely sure if their preschoolers finish up their meals at the childcare centre; by the time the kids reach school age, they start to choose and buy foods that they want to eat. Unfortunately, their preferences often include items which are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor (think chips, sweets and fried foods). In addition, some children may be picky about food – a 2012 study conducted by National University Hospital found that nearly one in two parents in Singapore say their child is a picky eater.
By not having a balanced diet, children may lose out in terms of growth and they could also lack the nutrients essential for optimal physical and mental development. Furthermore, eating habits established in childhood are likely to carry on to adulthood. So it is important for children to develop good dietary habits to help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases when they become adults.
As parents, we should ensure that our children are well-nourished with a balanced and varied diet that can supply all the nutrients they require. What actually constitutes a balanced diet? My Healthy Plate developed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) makes it easy to understand. A healthy meal comprises half plate of fruits and vegetables, quarter plate of whole-grains and quarter plate of meat and others (e.g. fish, tofu and dairy products). No single food can provide all the nutrients the body needs, so it is vital to consume a variety of foods from the different food groups. The visual guide also reminds us to use healthier oils (in moderation), choose water over sugar-sweetened drinks and be physically active.
Here’s something nifty to help parents find out if their child is consuming a balanced diet – the PediaSure-Nutritrac™ tool! This online tool is developed with the local diet in mind, based on dietary recommendations by HPB. It enables parents to identify potential dietary gaps and provides tips to help improve their child’s diet and achieve daily nutritional goals.
PediaSure-Nutritrac™ calculates the calorie needs of a child and estimates the number of servings that he or she needs from the different food groups, and then checks whether or not the recommended calories and food group servings are met (based on food intake data that parents have entered). Requirements are tailored according to the child’s age, gender, weight and activity level – this is important since the calorie and nutrient needs of children vary at different life stages.
Once you have a better understanding of your child’s current diet, you can take the necessary steps to improve it such as by making changes to family meals and educating your child to select healthier food options outside of home. As you work on this, consider including PediaSure Complete® as a supplement to your child’s daily meals to help fill nutritional gaps, especially if you have concerns about his or her growth.
PediaSure Complete® is a nutrient-dense formula that is scientifically designed to support optimal growth and development for children 1 to 10 years old, and is backed by 21 clinical studies.
Available in both powder and ready-to-drink formats.
Supports your child’s optimal growth with added iron for natural defense system
Contains Triple Protein Complex, with Taurine for overall mental and physical development
Provides 25 essential Vitamins and Minerals with AA, DHA, Pre- and Probiotics
Contains a unique lipid profile with MCTs for better nutrient absorption