We have to pay attention to the quality and quantity of the food in our children’s diets to ensure they experience a normal growth rate.
During childhood, energy and nutrient requirements are not fixed, but depend on age, sex and activity level.
In general terms, to ensure a healthy and balanced diet you need to:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables; at least 5 varied portions a day.
- Base meals on foods rich in carbohydrates like rice, potatoes or pasta.
- Increase your consumption of fibre by eating fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals.
- Eat a moderate amount of meat, fish and other good sources of protein.
- Reduce the consumption of fats, especially saturated fats.
- Reduce the consumption of salt.
- Reduce the consumption of sugars.
Therefore, when preparing meals, you should take into account the frequency with which different foods are consumed. Certain food groups can be eaten daily (fish and shellfish, lean meats, eggs, pulses, nuts, milk, yoghurt and cheese, olive oil, vegetables, fruit, cereals and water) while others should be eaten occasionally (fats, desserts, pastries, sweets, cakes, soft drinks and ice cream, fatty meats and sausages).
In addition, we have to take into account the amount of energy that each food group provides. Carbohydrates should make up more than 55% of the total amount of energy, fats between 30% and 35% and protein between 10% and 15%. We should also assess the amount of energy provided over the course of the day. Breakfast should provide approximately 20% of the total energy value, a mid-morning snack 10%, lunch between 30% and 35%, an afternoon snack from 10% to 15% and dinner from 25% to 30%.