Proper nutrition in adults and children

Proper nutrition in children and adults implies the intake of the necessary amounts of energy, macro and micronutrients. The most common recommendations include advising on food intake from all groups, advising on how a healthy meal should be designed and the recommended portion size.

The first recommendation concerns the choice of food. It is recommended to choose as many different foods from all 6 groups:

  • cereals and cereal products,
  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • milk and dairy products,
  • meat, fish, eggs and
  • fat.

In order to visually show how much each group of foods should be represented, in 1992, the famous food pyramid was designed, the base of which consisted of carbohydrates. In 2005, a new food pyramid was presented, with an emphasis on physical activity and fluid intake, but the whole concept was abandoned in 2011, when the focus was on the appearance or composition of a healthy plate (or meal).

There are visual diagrams that show what an optimally balanced plate should look like. Half of the plate should take up vegetables and fruits (although some schemes recommend that half of the plate be vegetables, and that fruit be eaten as a dessert). The second quarter of the plate should be filled with proteins (meat, fish, eggs), and the last quarter should contain complex carbohydrates (cooked whole grain cereals or cooked whole grain products).

The scheme also shows that water should be taken as a drink with a meal. A popular principle is to measure the portion size with a fist. A portion of prepared, cooked carbohydrates should be the size of a clenched fist, a portion of meat or fish should be the size of a palm, while a portion of fat should be the size of a thumb.

What are the most important characteristics of children's nutrition?

Children's nutrition is based on the same rules we use for proper and healthy adult nutrition. Regardless of age, the body needs the same macro and micronutrients, of course in different amounts.

It is important to choose high quality foods from all groups. To simplify the diet, experts have created guidelines that recommend the number of servings each year, for children of different genders and different ages. The specifics of children's nutrition are that children will not eat food that is healthy, but food whose taste they like, which they are used to and which their parents consume.

Eating habits of children are formed from 6 months of age, ie the moment when parents start introducing non-dairy meals. Parents often worry because their child does not eat certain vegetables or fruits. Instead, choose as many different fresh foods as possible for your child (and you), foods that are not processed, or foods that do not have a list of ingredients. Children copy adults. Be a role model for your child, if you avoid salad and take an extra amount of potatoes, the child will follow your example. Find a way to add foods you don't like to your favorite meal. Yes, children do not like all kinds of vegetables or meat, some do not like the taste of dairy products.

Try to avoid going to restaurants and buying meals too often, because you will never be able to be completely sure of the quality of the food and all the ingredients of the food if you have not prepared it yourself. Involve children in food preparation. They will probably be more in the mood to try the food in which they prepared and participated themselves. Keep healthy snacks always available. Always provide healthy snacks between snacks, when your children are expected to reach for a snack. Chop various fruits, pour a little honey over them or prepare freshly squeezed juices or even muesli bars.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.

In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

Find out more about Evie's experience here.

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