The importance of adequate nutrition during childhood should not be overlooked.
Parents play a key role in ensuring that their children meet their daily needs for vitamins, minerals and macronutrients.
If children have a poor diet, eating processed foods like cookies, chips, pop, and junk food, they may be at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Parents are responsible for preparing and providing healthy food choices for their child and modeling good eating behavior to encourage their child to eat more nutritious foods.
Children with nutritional deficiencies are particularly vulnerable to metabolic changes that negatively impact cognitive abilities and brain performance; a child’s diet directly affects their ability to learn, focus and concentrate.
Parents sincerely want their children to excel in school studies and sports. They try to support their children by helping them study, enrolling them in after-school classes, and providing them with a healthy and nurturing environment at home.
Mothers should pay special attention to the nutrition of their children, especially at school.
After speaking to several parents and teachers, I find that attention in this area is lacking, as most children typically receive nutrient-poor food choices in their lunch box. Therefore, I believe that education in this area can help mothers improve the general well-being of their children.
What mothers should include in their children’s lunch boxes.
Young children today have very busy schedules, with back-to-back lessons as well as extracurricular activities. Mid-morning school holidays are between 10am and 11am, which is the perfect time for a nutritious snack to replenish children’s mental and physical energy so they can perform at their best for the rest of the day.
Examples of nutritious school snacks: sandwiches with a healthy protein source (chicken, game beef or eggs), fruit and milk.
In developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, China, EU, and Turkey, milk is given to schoolchildren during their breaks by the government or as part of school programs.
Milk is a simple and complete food source that is rich in various nutrients and helps meet the daily nutritional needs of children.
Milk is rich in protein, calcium and vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for helping children maintain strong bones and teeth, and one of the best sources of calcium and vitamin D are dairy products.
In Pakistan, vitamin D deficiency among children is very high. Since this vitamin is an essential nutrient for maintaining skeletal muscle and bone health, keeping levels in check is essential.
Protein also helps children build and maintain lean muscle mass. Studies show that milk protein helps children grow.
Regular consumption of milk can thus result in better performance in physical activities and sports at school.
Milk contains vitamin A
Essential for a healthy immune system in children, vitamin A ensures that children’s immune systems stay strong, which means fewer sick days and school absences.
Milk is rich in B vitamins needed for energy production
B vitamins are needed to help cells produce energy. In particular, vitamin B12 plays an important role in brain development and function. This can result in improved focus and concentration, which translates to improved academic performance.
Various research conducted with schoolchildren around the world confirms these facts.
The National Institution of Nutrition in Vietnam conducted research on the impact of fortified milk consumption among primary school children. They found that children who drank fortified milk daily had more improvements in short-term memory, better indicators of learning, and improved weight and height compared to children who did not drink milk regularly. enriched.
Another study by Rahmani et al. (2011) conducted with school children in Iran also found that consuming one serving of milk per day at school had beneficial effects on children’s mental and physical function, as well as academic performance.
Are nutritious school snack options readily available?
Luckily, supermarkets in Pakistan are often filled with various options that can be used to craft a nutritious and delicious lunch box. Various nutritious options could include sandwiches with a healthy protein source (chicken, game beef or eggs), seasonal vegetables and fruits.
Among drinks, the most nutritious option is to include a packet of milk or, if your child prefers, even flavored milk.
Various reputable brands, such as Olper’s, now offer milk in convenient packages, which also come in flavors kids love. Olper flavored milk not only contains the nutrition of milk, but also added calcium, vitamins A and D, making it a highly nutritious and complete beverage.
As a nutritionist, people ask me why I would ever recommend flavored milk for children. In my opinion, the pros of this choice far outweigh the cons. From my previous experience working in infant nutrition clinics, I am aware that many children do not like plain milk. The advantage of including flavored milk in children’s diets is that, despite its added sugar content, flavored milk has the same nutritional profile as plain milk, making it one of the best options for drink available for children.
A systematic review of more than 50 studies in the journal Nutrition Reviews by Flavia Fayet-Moore shows that overall it is essential to offer the consumption of flavored milk as a strategy to increase milk consumption in children.
In summary, a serving of milk is one of the best options mothers can add to their child’s lunch box. Research in schools also suggests that drinking milk regularly can help students do better in college. Rich in nutrients such as protein, calcium, vitamins A, B6, B12, and D, daily milk consumption helps children build and maintain healthy bones, teeth, and lean muscle.
Zoha Matin is a nutrition expert and coach who holds a Masters in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from McGill University. She frequently posts health and nutrition related content on Instagram as @zo.the.nutritionist.
This content is produced in paid partnership with Friesland Campina.
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