How to feed children well?


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Article by Estelle Marty (Micro-nutritionist and Bleu-Blanc-Cœur ambassador).

Which needs to grow well?

As kids grows, the nutritional needs of the child gradually increase. Between 3 and 11 years old, the energy intakes are between 1300 and 2100 Kcal / day and must be adapted to the age and weight of the child, but also to the daily energy expenditure (walks, sport activity, kids’s play, etc.) and to its appetite. It is during childhood, that taste and flavors are forged: the sooner we educate the taste, the more we will develop curiosity for a wide range of flavors. It is also during this period that we can begin to learn what it means to « eat well »: according to our needs, but also according to the products that are available to us in relation to our living area, local usage, and seasons.

🍳Animal and vegetable proteins

Proteins needing are increased in children dues to their growth. Proteins must be consumed daily and contain all the so-called essential amino acids. They must be supplied through food because the human body cannot made them. Proteins build all organs and tissues and act as messenger. Food that are sources of animal protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, etc.) bring also essential micronutrients. In meat, there is for example iron, vitamin B12, zinc, etc.

If the meals alternate with vegetable proteins, a synergy of leguminous and cereals is indispensable in order to balance the intake in amino acids. As example, this is an interesting vegetal synergy for protein intake:  lentil + quinoa + germinated seed + oilseeds.

🐄Which source of fatty acids to prefer?

The good fat are also important, and to daily integrate, in particular the precious fatty acids Omega-3 crucial for the development of the brain and nervous system. Omega-3s also enter into the structure of the cells membranes and allow their fluidity.

We found Omega-3s in plants sources such as rapeseed oil, flaxseed, camelina, walnuts, chia seeds, etc., and in the animals sources such as fatty fish, eggs, meat, and dairy products.

The Bleu-Blanc-Cœur association is involved in production methods aiming to improve the nutritional and environment quality of our food. Thanks to a varied and balanced diet of the animals, the Bleu-Blanc-Cœur animal’s products (meat, eggs, dairy products, etc.) contain in average 3 times more Omega-3 than the standard equivalent.

Do not demonize the other sources of fat as the “real” butter, the “real“ cream, which among other things, provide Vitamin A and D, but which should be consumed reasonably. The young children until the end of their full development, needs certains fatty acids saturated. On the other hands, vegetal fat hydrogenated, that we found in some products highly processed are to avoid. They might according local regulation be mentioned or not, such in EU, with the description on packaging: « vegetal fat partially hydrogenated».

🔎 More information:

Vitamin A, D, E, K are fat soluble (they associate to the fat of food). Fat then serves as a carrier to a better assimilation of Vitamin.

Example of synergy to boost the assimilation of vitamins A, D, E, K:

  • Vit A: grated carrots + pistachios + avocado
  • Vit D: mackerel + mushroom + oilnuts
  • Vit E: spinach + eggs + almond
  • Vit K: broccoli or kale cabbage + chicken liver + camelina oil

🥖Tips on carbohydrates and sugars

Carbohydrate allow to cover the daily energetics needs. Cereals, leguminous or tubbers should have a good place each day on the plate, they are essentials to ensure their role as fuel for the brain and muscles. It’s better to favor foods with a low glycemic index (whole products, leguminous) which provide an energy intake better distributed over time. Choose them as natural as possible. Leguminous such as the families of beans, lentil, chickpeas, etc. are very nutritious and also interesting sources of vegetable proteins, fibers and essential micronutrients. Incorporate them gradually into the preparation to avoid digestive discomfort.

All added sugars should be limited. Sweet, and sugary or sweetened drinks (the « light » or sugar « free » versions) maintain the appetite for sweetness; sugar calls for sugar and become a real addiction. Better should to take fresh fruits or dark chocolate (70% minimum of cocoa). For homemade desserts use whole sugar, honey, compotes to remplace in advantage the white sugar while providing nutrients.

🔎 More information:

 to lower the glycemic index of a dish of pasta / white rice or potatoes add systematically some vegetables, some fat (butter, oil, seeds, avocado), or proteins food ( meat, fish, eggs, cheese, leguminous). They slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.

🍅fruit and vegetables at all meals

Seasonal vegetables and fruits must find a place on your plate te every day! And if they are organics or agroecological, not need to peel because the skin of plants is very concentrated in vitamins, minerals, fibers, etc. It’s tastier and better for the cells! Vary the colors because all these plants provide different families of protective antioxidants. Favor low temperature cooking methods in order to preserve a maximum the nutritional quality.

Vegetables are often difficult to make them consume by children. Vary the colors to stimulate the curiosity. Here are some tips to achieve it:

  • ✅ Make participate children to choose vegetables (to do with him the shopping list , bring him to the market). Add these vegetables systematically to the cooking preparation, on small portion to start.
  • Don’t forced him to eat, the risk would be to disgust him, including other vegetables.
  • Involve the kids in the preparation of meals and congratulate him for cooking with you.
  • Privilege the presentation of playfull plates. Food calls on our sensory mechanisms, the eye and smell eat before the mouth.
  • Share the meals in a pleasant atmosphere. Getting together at the table brings conviviality and acts on the pleasure of eating.
  • Taste the homemade Smoothies and handmade Gazpacho? If plants are unsuitable, children will have an easier time drinking them (especially if the color is attractive); fruits and vegetables will then be better accepted in more solid forms.

🧀dairy products and other sources of calcium

Calcium intakes, important in dairy products, are essentials to edification of the child’s skeleton. Dry cheeses and mountain cheeses are better to softer cheeses for their calcium content. Yogurts (unsweetened, and preferably with bifidus) and other fermented dairy products (kefir,…) are also beneficial for the gut flora. There is also calcium in certain plants, such in the cabbage family (the crucifers), the figs (of course dry because they concentrate minerals), almonds, etc. Finally the mineralized water which is rich in calcium.

Example of food synergy beneficial for their calcium intake : almonds +broccoli + whole sardines (the bones are rich in calcium) + yogurt + tarragon.

🔎 More information: To better absorb calcium and retain it in the body, an interaction with vitamin D is necessary. In addition, vitamin D boosts the immunity and has anti-inflammatory effects. Some food that provide Vitamin D: fatty fish (cod, herring, sardines, trout, salmon), eggs, dairy products, cocoa, algae, and in a less quantity in avocado and mushrooms.

Find more information about Viatmin D in this factsheet

📝Check industrial products’ nutrition labels

Be carreful with salt and all hiden additives of highly processed food! Favor whole and raw ingredients, that have not been denatured to provide the maximum amount of beneficial nutrients. Foods naturally contain salt, so tasting before you take out the salt shaker is a good habit.

🔎 More information: To season, think about herbs, spices and aromatics on your plates, they provide valuable protective antioxidants.

💦And what do I drink with all that?

Water remains the only essential drink for the body to function. Water carries vitamins and minerals to the organs. It helps reduce tiredness and avoid the risk of dehydration.

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