Written by Great Emefeke
Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs in order to protect and promote health and to increase the quality of life.
A balanced diet means getting the right types and amounts of foods and drinks to supply nutrients and energy for maintaining body cells, tissues, and organs, to support normal growth and development.
Let’s think about these four children from four different families. They are all 7 years old and in the same class (Grade 2).
JACK is a nice kid with a bright, bubbly smile. His parents love him so much and feel the best way to show their love is to give him whatever he wants… Jack happens to love burgers a lot. He also loves sweets, candy, and chocolate. So this is what he eats every day. He is overweight.
JUNIOR is Jack’s best friend. Junior’s parents are serious-minded disciplinarians, and overly health-conscious. They only eat proteins and vegetables…. completely avoiding carbohydrates and fats. Once in a while, Junior takes a bite off Jack’s burgers (unknown to his parents). He is underweight.
JILL is a happy kid who loves to spend time in the kitchen with her mum. Her mum is a very busy, and professional baker. Her work doesn’t give her a lot of time to cook for the family so they mostly eat cake – very sweet cakes.
JULIA is an intelligent kid. Her parents are very interested in what she eats and they make sure she gets a balanced diet every day. Her meals vary from a wide range of functional foods with the right proportion of fruits and vegetables, dairy, carbohydrates, and proteins.
Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. They promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.
Without thinking too much, Julia’s nutrition is the best because it is balanced. But what do the other children’s nutrition imply?
JACK & JILL: Burgers, sweets, candy, cakes, and chocolates are high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. Living on a diet that consists of only these kinds of foods is one extreme end of kinds of diet. These foods take a longer time to be broken down by the body, therefore can build-up to cause weight gain and increase the risk of unhealthy blood sugar levels. Lack of other vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and proteins may also result in the manifestation of certain illnesses.
JUNIOR: Eating only proteins and vegetables can be unhealthy when it is done out of proportion. This is the other extreme end (being overly health-conscious and avoiding carbohydrates and/or healthy fats). In this case, Junior is underweight and vulnerable to lethargic conditions and lack of energy, lack of endurance and concentration etc.
The best way to nourish your children is to give them a balanced diet. Carbohydrates will provide them with immediate energy. Proteins provide energy on a longer-term basis and play a significant role in the building and repair of body tissues.
Healthy fats and oils are good for the heart and help to maintain normal cholesterol levels; omega-3s help with growth and development.
Healthy Fats & Oils include fish oils, olive oil, peanut oil. Unhealthy Fats & Oils are found in fried foods, canned foods, cakes, butter, and snacks.
Vitamins and minerals from fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are beneficial in so many ways, a good example being their significant contribution to immune support.
Lastly, water is always a better choice for a drink than sugary drinks and sodas.
Good nutrition is necessary to have healthy kids. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.
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