Don’t Miss Out on the Nutritional Benefits of Dairy in Your Child’s Diet
A child who eats well is a child who performs well. Healthy and balanced meals that include dairy and other nutritious foods provide your children with the right energy - they need for school, sports, and all other activities.
The growing up years of your children are difficult from a dietary perspective. As a parent, you want to ensure that your child eats properly. This conflicts with your child’s growing independence, vulnerability to food myths, fragile body confidence, and sensitivity to peer pressure.
During the pre-teen and puberty years, your child’s body is undergoing continuous growth and development, along with fluctuating hormones. During this vital stage, it’s essential that you encourage your child to consume nutrient-rich foods including milk and other dairy products.
Dairy – A Vital Source of Nutrients for Growing Children
A study released by U.S Dietary Guidelines shows that children between the ages four to eighteen are not getting the recommended intake of dairy products. This increases several complications like – weak bones, bone fractures, rickets, and even osteoporosis (a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone) later in life.
Dairy products are an essential part of children’s diet. Apart from providing your children with energy from carbohydrates, dairy is an excellent source of proteins, fat, and several vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous.
Importance of Dairy Products for Children – To Boost Growth and Development
Calcium and vitamin D are two essential nutrients that we need throughout life, and especially during the active growing adolescent years. Calcium is the foundation for strong bones and teeth; while Vitamin D helps your body increase the absorption of calcium.
And, the best sources of these two essential nutrients are dairy products. Dairy products like milk, curd, cheese, buttermilk are the richest sources of calcium.
How much Dairy Products do Growing Children need per day?
Boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 8 require around 2.5 cups of dairy products every day. Older children between the ages of 9 and 18 require 3 cups of dairy products per day. Teenage girls require extra dairy products because their bodies are rapidly growing during this stage.
Getting your recommended daily intake of dairy shouldn’t be difficult as there are plenty of dairy sources available.
Toned or Whole Milk?
This is a huge debate today, as children especially adolescents are quite concerned with their calorie intake. If your child is avoiding dairy because of the high-fat, you can easily swap regular milk with toned milk. Toned milk is fat-free and provides your child with the necessary nutrients without any fat.
In addition, you can encourage your child to avoid fatty dairy products like cheese and choose milk, curd, and buttermilk that are rich in calcium, without extra fats. Processed dairy products like cheese are full of saturated fat and sodium. You can avoid these and serve your child with other dairy products like calcium and vitamin D fortified milk, that doesn’t contain added sodium and preservatives.
Tips to Help your Child get more Dairy in their Diet
To help your child meet their daily recommended dairy intake, here are a few suggestions for meals and snacks:
Start the day with a nourishing and filling breakfast.
- Toned milk cereal, oatmeal or smoothie
- Low-fat yogurt
- Add grated cheese to your child’s egg dishes like omelettes or scrambled eggs
Include dairy in your child’s lunch to avoid the post-lunch energy slump and keep your child energised all through the day.
- A glass of toned milk
- Include cheese to your child’s lunch sandwiches and wraps
Including dairy in your child’s dinner helps your child feel rested and calm, thereby enjoying deep sleep at night.
- Include grated cheese to vegetable salads and serve it as an appetiser for dinner
- Finish off your child’s dinner with a glass of toned milk
Including dairy products in morning and evening snacks is a great way to help your child meet his/her recommended daily intake.
- Iron-fortified cereals with toned milk
- Low-fat curd
- Fruit smoothies made with toned milk
- Flavoured milk
Ensuring that your children meet their dairy requirements during their growing years, helps to reduce their risk of injury and build strong bones later in life. Make sure to set the right example for your kids by including dairy in your daily meal. And, if you are worried about weight gain, swap out whole milk with fortified milk to enjoy the benefits of all nutrients without any extra fat!