Best foods for growing children: Complete guide to child nutrition this summer season
To help you understand the importance of proper nutrition for children this summer, here's a comprehensive guide
Summer brings a range of health issues like heat stroke, dehydration, rashes and indigestion but while staying indoors, using fans and air conditioners and wearing light-coloured, breathable cotton clothing can help keep us cool, it is essential to ensure that children receive proper nutrition to keep their bodies cool. Children's immunity is lower compared to adults, making it crucial to provide them with a balanced intake of nutritious meals and drinks during the summer.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Simran Saini, Nutritionist and Weight Loss Consultant, shared, “Summers are the time for holidays, fun and frolic in the blazing son. Kids enjoy it but sweat a lot and feel fatigued easily as well. So to keep the kids active and protected the right nutrition plays a vital role. We recommend keeping children hydrated with plenty of on the go liquids which include lemonade, aam panna, chaach, taang, fruit juices such as watermelon juice, sugarcane juice and coconut water as well. To add small frequent healthy snacks work well to keep up the energy and nutrient balance. Steering clear or candies available from the market, prefer homemade ice Fruit flavored pops, sprouts, home made dhokla and flavoured yogurt for kids. These are safe and most delicious. A well fed child is a happy child and a healthy child. So let's keep our kids smiling and playing in the sun.”
To help you understand the importance of proper nutrition for children this summer, Shweta Mishra, Nutritionist at Gritzo, listed a comprehensive guide and recommended:
- Health drinks - To control dehydration and heat exhaustion in a heatwave, it's crucial to take precautions. Including health drinks like smoothies or protein shakes in a child's diet is a convenient way to boost nutrient intake. Smoothies with fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, while protein shakes aid muscle growth and repair, ideal for active children during summer. It's important to be selective with health drinks as many are high in added sugars and calories. Choose drinks with whole, nutrient-dense ingredients and low added sugars for maximum nutritional benefits. Another healthy and safe option is coconut water. It's rich in electrolytes, keeping you hydrated and cool in summer while boosting energy levels. Additionally, coconut water improves digestion and contains vital nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin C, enhancing the immune system and reducing inflammation. This is particularly crucial during a heatwave when the body is more susceptible to seasonal ailments and infections due to added heat stress.
- Yogurt - Yogurt offers a valuable combination of protein, calcium, and probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms that support a healthy gut. This becomes particularly important in the summer when children may encounter digestive problems due to changes in their routine and eating habits. Yogurt presents itself as a delightful and refreshing snack option, helping to keep children hydrated and satisfied between meals. Probiotics aid in digestion and provide an internal cooling effect. To incorporate yogurt into a child's diet, it is recommended to enhance its taste by adding sweet fruits. This transforms it into a delightful treat for kids. Probiotics serve as a beneficial addition to anyone's eating regimen as they can alleviate issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and weakened immunity.
- Seasonal and Citrus Fruits - In the summer season, it is crucial to incorporate a variety of fresh fruits in children's diets to provide them with vital vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges, are excellent sources of vitamin C, known for their abdominal cooling properties and detoxification benefits. Seasonal fruits such as watermelon and mangoes also offer hydration, toxin-flushing properties, and promote healthy skin. Mangoes, in particular, are rich in minerals and antioxidants, providing immediate energy and preventing fatigue. Encouraging children to consume raw mango can be done through a delicious and healthy drink called aam panna. Boosting vitamin C intake can be achieved by incorporating lemonade, amla juice, or orange juice into children's diets through juices and fruit salads. Drinking lemon water enhances immunity, keeps the skin fresh, and aids in detoxification. Adding a splash of lemon juice to salads or water adds a refreshing twist.
- Green Leafy Vegetables - Alongside citrus fruits, including leafy vegetables in a child's summer diet is vital for their health and energy. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and cabbage offer numerous health benefits. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals while being low in calories, making them an excellent choice to support children's health and ensure they receive essential nutrients. These vegetables are also packed with vitamins A, C, folic acid, calcium, iron, and other minerals, making them an effective way to boost vitamin and nutrient intake during the summer. Additionally, cucumbers have a cooling effect on the body, high fiber content, and aid in maintaining healthy digestion and preventing constipation. They can be a great snack option, especially for fussy eaters. Simply leave a bowl of cucumber sticks on the child's table and watch them disappear.
Talking about essential tips for keeping your child healthy and hydrated during the summer season, Ruchi Sharmma, Nutritionist and Dietician at Gladful, advised:
- During the summer season, it is important for children to engage in outdoor activities and spend quality time with loved ones. However, the hot weather can pose risks such as dehydration and other health issues if parents do not pay attention to their child's nutrition. Therefore, ensuring that children stay hydrated and receive an adequate intake of protein becomes crucial.
- To begin with, it is essential to keep water readily available at all times, particularly when outdoors. Parents should encourage their children to drink water regularly, as it helps maintain hydration and prevents heat-related problems. Sugary beverages like soda should be avoided as they can contribute to dehydration. Instead, opting for fortified drinks or coconut water is recommended.
- In addition to hydration, protein intake is vital for a child's growth and development. During the summer months, it is beneficial to include protein-rich foods in their diet. These can include dairy products, eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, and beans. By incorporating such foods into their meals, children can sustain their energy levels and stay active, enhancing their enjoyment of the summer season.
In conclusion, prioritising child nutrition during the summer is of utmost importance. Parents should focus on keeping their children hydrated and ensuring they receive enough protein. By following these guidelines, parents can ensure that their children have a healthy and enjoyable summer filled with lasting memories.