Since school-age children are in the period of growth and development, the amount of calories they need to take daily and the pattern of the nutrients they will take are of great importance. The most common problem in children in this age group is that they skip breakfast because they get up early. Since they do not have a regular breakfast and are affected by each other, the other problem is that they consume foods with a very low nutritional value and fiber content, but high in calories, which are described as junk food. Such foods are especially preferred with sauce, so the calories taken are quite high and of poor quality.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for school-age children. In order to avoid unhealthy breakfast alternatives at school, breakfast should be made as a family. When breakfast is not available at home, healthy sandwiches can be prepared and consumed. Fruit, buttermilk or milk can be put in the lunch box as a snack. In this way, breakfast alternatives that we describe as unhealthy at school include pastries, chocolate, sausage toast, pies made with puff pastry dough, sweet biscuits, even chips and chips. In addition, cola drinks and ready-made fruit juices will be avoided. A child who has an adequate and balanced diet and consumes as much as he or she needs from each food group will also be prevented from laying the groundwork for the obesity disease, which we call obesity, and the problems that this disease may bring in the future. It should not be forgotten that childhood obesity may mean dealing with a weight problem throughout one’s life.
Other issues that families complain about their children are nutritional problems such as choosing food, loss of appetite, and turning to fast food-style foods. The most decisive factor in this regard is the family’s attitude towards food consumption.
Growth and development occur very rapidly during childhood. For this reason, the vitamin, mineral and energy requirements of children are different from adults. This situation even shows seasonal differences in children. Therefore, nutrition should be made according to these special periods.
The important thing is not how much food the child eats, but how well-balanced he is, and whether he gets enough energy and nutrients. The normal development of the child should be evaluated by looking at the height and weight. Nutrition education and psychotherapy are of great importance in solving the problem of anorexia. Eating problems observed in children are usually due to the attitude of family members towards food.
If there is no metabolic problem in children, the way to be followed is to prepare an energy-equivalent nutrition plan appropriate for the age of the child and to ensure that the child acquires physical activity. Nutrition education is the most important part of this plan and should cover all family members.
Rapid weight loss and very low energy diets are not suitable for children. The important thing is that the child is healthy and loses weight over time. While the child loses weight, he/she should gain the right eating habits and practice this in his/her life. In the light of all these, we can list the general treatment principles to be applied in the treatment of obesity:
- Energy should be given as much as the daily energy needs of the fat child, no restrictions should be made.
- A nutrition program should be made considering the daily life style and habits of the child and the family.
- Bad eating habits should be corrected and the foods that should be taken daily should be given with frequent meals (5-6 meals/day).
- In the given diet, 50-55% of the total daily energy should be provided from carbohydrates, 15-20% from protein, and 30-35% from fat.
- Foods with high energy content such as sugar and sugary foods, dried fruits, chocolate, pies, muffins should be excluded from the nutrition program.
- In order to provide saturation in the diet, pulpy foods (such as salad) should be used. Also, fluid consumption should be increased.
- In addition to the nutrition program, it is recommended to do regular physical activities such as walking and cycling, in short, to increase daily movements.
To summarize, for your child’s healthy diet;
- Get your child into the habit of having breakfast.
- Sit at the table with your child and remember that your child will imitate you.
- Make sure your child sits down and eats, don’t try to get him to eat while he’s playing or doing another job.
- Give your children the opportunity to choose their meals, you can make healthy foods more attractive by playing with their images.
- Do not reward or punish your child with food.
- Do not ban foods that you think are not healthy to your child, this may be more appealing to him.
- Do not place hard, non-breakable foods in front of your child, which makes it problematic for them to use cutlery. Cook foods that can be consumed more easily.
- Make sure that the TV cannot be turned on while you are eating.
- Provide nutritious snacks to children who do not consume main meals very well.
- Make sure that they do not consume sugary foods before meals. Such foods suppress appetite and give empty energy.
- Meal times should be arranged very well, the child should not be too hungry or too full.
- Create an alternative to the food he doesn’t want to consume.
- From time to time, include low-sugar, low-fat cakes or cookies, but give snacks mostly consisting of milk and fruit-type foods.
Children usually prefer to eat less-volume foods, so for the child who does not want to have breakfast, you can make a toast with fat-free whole grain bread and feta cheese and tomatoes. Or a breakfast made with whole-grain cereal and milk can provide the occasional variety.
If your child eats at school, the menu should be checked.