Do you know how many meals experts recommend we eat each day? Five: Do you comply with the recommendations? And your children? Today, at Educo, we invite you to discover why it is important to eat five meals a day and we give you ideas so that the little ones (and you too) eat well in each of them.
Why eat five meals a day?
We are usually recommended to eat five meals a day, something that at times may seem exaggerated and give us a little laziness. However, do you know why we are advised to do this? First of all, the answer is very simple: how would we consume between 3 and 5 servings of fruits and vegetables plus 2 or 3 servings of protein a day in just two or three meals?
And to that we would have to add the recommended dairy rations. As you can see, having five meals a day is a good way to ensure that children consume all the nutrients mentioned in the Children’s Food Pyramid. On the other hand, we have an intelligent organism that if it feels that it is not receiving nutrients, begins to save energy and accumulate fat to survive as long as possible. However, if we talk specifically about children: they need “fuel” to play and learn!
A healthy diet gives them all the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong. Another reason to eat five times a day is that if we don’t, we’ll be hungry and succumb to snacking! Among us, moreover, children who are hungry tend to be in a bad mood and in front of their tantrums, parents tend to give up and give them anything to calm them down (call themselves potato bags or any “chuche” that will allow them to calm their anger attacks momentarily). Do you think there are enough reasons to eat five times a day?
Importance of healthy infant nutrition
Eating a healthy diet from early childhood is a fundamental pillar for the physical and intellectual development of children. Eating well, and by this we do not mean avoiding sweets, sausages and pastries, but rather eating everything to the right extent, is essential for the proper functioning of our body. In the case of children, you must bear in mind that a food deficit can lead to problems of concentration, communication, learning and socialization.
In addition, a correct diet based on fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals will help prevent the appearance of some diseases, such as diabetes, anemia, obesity and cavities, among others. As you can see, it is extremely important that you transmit healthy eating habits to your children, not only for their current health but also for their future health.
Ideas for children to eat well all day long
Surely, after this introduction you are convinced of the importance of promoting a balanced diet in children. But how can we ensure that children eat well throughout the day? Let’s look at some ideas:
A breakfast for kings!
Breakfast is the first food we receive after a period of fasting, so it’s very important! We know that many children do not like breakfast, but it is essential that you pay special attention to this meal. We recommend a breakfast that includes a wide variety of nutrients and gives children all the energy they need to start the day. Need ideas? To drink, a natural juice, milk (can be with a teaspoon of chocolate if the little one doesn’t like it alone), drinkable yogurt or a fruit smoothie. And to eat? There are many ideas. The bread should not be missing (if it is wholemeal, even better), you can accompany it with avocado, hummus, tomato and olive oil, turkey, ham andork or cheese. You can also serve your children eggs (cooked or scrambled), cereals with milk and fruits, fruit salads, whole-wheat biscuits or homemade biscuits without sugar.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep kids from wanting to peck between meals, especially if they haven’t had a good breakfast. If your kids ask you for something to eat, don’t go for anything. Offer them a fruit or vegetable (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots are delicious snacks, which can be accompanied by fresh cheese), whole-wheat biscuits (rice or corn), homemade popcorn (without added sugar or salt, or with little salt), yogurt or a handful of nuts. A secret? Always carry one of these options with you in your purse to avoid having to buy what you find when your child is hungry.
A nutritious lunch
The lunch allows the children to arrive well to the food, for it we propose you that you prepare a sandwich (small or medium, according to the age of the child). You should preferably choose wholemeal or “black” breads as they contain more fiber. The breads with seeds are an excellent option and for the filling, choose low fat cheeses and turkey or ham. If you include tomato, lettuce or cucumber, even better!
Many colors in one dish
It’s time for lunch. First of all, we suggest you serve carbohydrates: pasta, rice, legumes or potatoes. Secondly, you can prepare lean meat (red meat should be eaten in moderation), varying between chicken and fish and sometime a week, red meat. Accompany the main course with vegetables and remember that the more colours the course has, the more nutritious it will be!
Your son refuses to eat vegetables? Don’t worry, be smart and camouflage vegetables into dishes he loves. Did you know you can make pizza with cauliflower dough, chicken and vegetable nuggets, or spinach gnocchi?
For dessert, fruit
One of the most common mistakes parents make is to let children associate sweets with desserts. A sweets is not a dessert, on the contrary a fruit is. It is better to leave the sweets for special moments (and from time to time).
Water all day!
The best drink for your children is water, because it keeps them hydrated without adding sugars and empty calories to their diet.
Best homemade pastries!
Preventing children from eating pastries is almost impossible! That’s why we suggest you prepare cakes and all kinds of pastries at home. In fact, you can minimize sugar consumption if you sweeten cakes with fruits, honey or stevia.
Sowing and harvesting fruits and vegetables (even if not on the balcony) can be a great idea for children to try.