Balanced nutrition and healthy diet are two fundamental pillars of our health and wellbeing. Good nutrition is an indispensable condition for adequate physical, psychological and social development.
Nutrition in the first few years of life is very important for several reasons. Firstly, children who are nourished in a healthy and balanced way have an adequate physical and intellectual development. Secondly, in these early years of life many habits and routines, including those of food, are acquired that will accompany us the rest of our lives.
What do we mean by a balanced and healthy diet?
A balanced diet is one that incorporates different nutrients and food groups, in the appropriate quantities and frequencies according to the needs of each person in different evolutionary moments, and therefore, in addition, is healthy. The first key to a healthy and balanced diet is that kids eat everything.
After two years, after the introduction of food, kids should be fed a diversified diet, including the different types of food that provide them with all the nutrients necessary for normal development, hence the Importance of a balanced diet.
How are nutrients classified?
Depending on the types of nutrients contained in food, they are divided into two major groups: macronutrients – those with carbohydrates, proteins and fats – and micronutrients – which have vitamins and minerals.
Which nutrients are not important for health?
None. All nutrients are important, although they have different functions. Some food has a building block function, as it helps to build the framework of our body and to form the tissues of the muscular masses, through good quality proteins and mineral elements, especially calcium.
Other food has an energetic function, providing the necessary calories to develop our daily activities, through carbohydrates and fats. The correct combination of these will lead to a balanced diet.
In what foods are these nutrients found?
Here are some of the foods that contain a high content of these nutrients:
- Proteins: found in milk and milk products; Chicken, pork, beef, lamb and rabbit meat;
- Processed meat (sausage, sausage, charcuterie); Eggs; Fatty fish (mackerel, anchovy, bonito) and lean (whiting, sole, hake); Legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils); Nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts); Cereals (wheat, rice, corn); Potato, carrot, green beans, peas, pepper, tomato.
- Carbohydrates: found in rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, legumes; sugar, jam, honey, fruits and sweets in general
- Fats: found in oils (olive, sunflower); Nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, avocado.
- Minerals: Three minerals especially important in the diet are calcium, iron and iodine. Calcium is found in dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, shakes, dairy desserts in general) and fish (anchovies, canned sardines, etc.); Iron in liver, kidneys, beef, egg yolk, mollusks (mussels), legumes, nuts, raisins, prunes and breakfast cereals; And iodine in marine fish and iodized salt.
- Vitamins: found in vegetables (carrot, red and green pepper, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage); Fruit (orange, kiwi, strawberry, strawberry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, melon); Meat and fish; Eggs and dairy products.
How to establish the necessary nutrients
Following the nutritional recommendations of the experts, and taking into account that a healthy and balanced diet should include:
- Carbohydrates: between 50 and 60% of the total calories in the diet
- Proteins: between 12 and 15% of the total calories in the diet
- Fats: 25 to 30% of the total calories in the diet
We have tables that establish the necessary nutrients for each child according to their age. Obviously, these tables offer a generic recommendation, which serves as the basis for all boys and girls. Parents should make an adjustment to the needs of their child, taking into account their growth needs and activities throughout the day. The NAOS Pyramid provides a guide on how many times a week each food should be consumed in order to have a balanced diet.