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Addressing nutritional requirements and promoting healthier choices for school-age children

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Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the growth and development of school-age children. As parents and caregivers, it is crucial to understand the unique nutritional requirements of this age group and promote healthy eating habits. In this article, we will explore some important aspects of children’s nutrition, including fussy eating, deciphering food labels for healthier snacks, understanding Health Promotion Board’s newly released policy on sugar grades for beverages, and the importance of milk consumption.

Fussy eating

Fussy eating is a common challenge among school-age children. They may be selective about what they eat, showing aversions to certain foods or textures. To ensure they receive adequate nutrition, it is important to approach fussy eating with patience and creativity. Encourage a variety of healthy options, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Get children involved in meal planning and preparation, making it a fun and interactive experience. Gradually introduce new foods and flavours, and remember that it can take multiple attempts before a child accepts a new food.

Deciphering food labels for healthier snacks

When it comes to choosing snacks for school-age children, understanding food labels is essential. Start by looking at the ingredients list, and follow these tips:

  • Aim for snacks with whole grains, minimal added sugars, and limited artificial additives.
  • Avoid snacks high in trans fats or saturated fats.
  • Check the serving size and be mindful of portion control.
  • Remember to stock only the healthier ones and keep them in individual repack portions.
  • Healthier snacks are rich in nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, and homemade snacks whenever possible, as they offer more control over the ingredients.

Sugar grades for beverages

Beverages are often a hidden source of excess sugar in children’s diets. Many sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices, can contribute to weight gain and dental problems. When selecting beverages for children, pay attention to sugar content. Singapore has recently implemented a sugar grading system on labels call Nutri-Grade, indicating the sugar and saturated fat content per 100ml. Nutri-Grade has four colour-coded grades, with Grade A drinks containing the lowest amounts of sugar and saturated fats listed prominently in green on the labels. Grades A and B are the only marks that have the healthier choice symbol (HCS). Moreover, Nutri-Grade beverages with grades C and D are marked on the front of drink packages or easier identification. Aim for beverages with low or no added sugar. Encourage water as the primary choice, and consider flavoured water or infusions for variety. Limit the consumption of sugary drinks to occasional treats rather than daily staples.

Should All Children Drink Milk?

Milk and dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients. However, not all children may need or tolerate dairy products. Some children may have lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. In such cases, alternative sources of calcium and protein, such as fortified plant-based milks, tofu, leafy greens, and legumes, should be included in their diet. Try interesting recipes such as tofu smoothies or spinach quiche! It is essential to consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to ensure children meet their nutritional needs if they are not consuming dairy products. In conclusion, promoting healthy eating habits for school-age children requires understanding their unique nutritional requirements. Overcoming fussy eating involves patience, creativity, and gradual exposure to new foods. Deciphering food labels enables caregivers to choose healthier snacks that are low in added sugars and artificial additives. Paying attention to Nutri-Grade sugar grades in beverages helps in reducing the intake of sugary drinks. While milk is a valuable source of nutrients, alternatives should be considered for children with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies. By prioritising nutritious choices, we can empower children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits and support their overall well-being.

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