Brief notes on Meal Planning for Pre-Schoolers

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Children between one to six years of age come under this category. This period is the time of rapid growth but this growth is slower and lesser as compared the infancy. Physical activeness is the salient feature of this period.

The child gradually starts becoming independent rather dependent upon the mother. Regular weight gain by the child reflects in his health and nutritional j level. A chubby child of infancy becomes lean and thin by the time he attains the pre-school stage because more height I than weight is gained in this period.

Rapid growth and many physical activ­ity effect the requirement of nutrients, so nutritional requirements of this stage can be divided into two groups, i.e., 1-3 years and 4- 6 years.

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• Energy. Requirement of total energy of a child increases with his age. But if you measure energy on the basis of his body weight it would come out to be quite less as compared to an infant. This is on account of comparatively slow growth rate. Requirement of energy is more in this age because the child is physically very active.

• Proteins and calcium. According to the size of the body, nutrients like pro­teins and calcium are required in large proportions because these are helpful in the growth and development of body. These are essential for strengthening of muscles and formation of bony tissues in the body. Therefore, pulses, meat, eggs, milk, and milk products should be given to the child. Deficiency of protein causes Kwashiorkor disease in the chil­dren.

• Vitamin A, C and D. Possibility of infections and other diseases in this age is more, that’s why intake of pro­tective nutrients specially Vitamin A and C is very important. Therefore, in­clusion of vitamin C rich foods like cit­rus fruits and green vegetables and Vitamin A rich foods like carrot, mango, green vegetables, milk, fish, etc. in food is a must. Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body.

• Minerals. Calcium and phosphorus are required to strengthen bones and teeth. Iron is required for blood formation in the body.

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Diet planning

Eating habits are formed in this period. These habits are influenced largely by par­ents, friends, television, food advertisement etc. Hence, giving a balanced diet to the chill is a challenging task.

Follow a daily meal plan for a pre-such child. Interval between two meals should nei­ther be very short nor very long. Light me should be served between two main meals. At least one food from the entire five food group should be included in diet. Before planning diet it is important to ensure whether the child is in 1-3 years or 4-6 years of age group. Also consider the availability of food stuffs and the liking and disliking of the child Food for a pre-school child should be selected on the basis of number of factors.

Other important things to be considered

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1. Child should be served food in a pie ant and tension free environment

2. In this age, children enjoy eating the selves and specially those foods which they may handle with their hands easily. Hence, food should be served to the after cutting into small pieces.

3. Allow the child to decide for himself whether he likes the new food or no’ the child would never accept the need food, if he is forced to eat.

4. Change the form of those foods which the child does not want to eat. Serve i when the child is hungry. By doing so the acceptance of food will increase

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5. Children don’t like strong flavored food so only mild flavors should be included in the diet.

6. Avoid excessive use of spicy, sweet and more fibrous food. Such foods harm the delicate digestive system the child.

7. Meals should be appealing and attractive so that the child is tempted to eat

8. Don’t serve either very hot or very cold food to the child.

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On the basis of above stated facts you can serve a nutritive diet to the pre-schoolers.

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