Joy of Eating: Nutrition throughout the Years

Jul 01, 2014
Tagged with: Joy of Eating:  Nutrition throughout the Years

We are always advised to eat a well-balanced diet throughout our lives. From the time we are just a fetus till we’re old and grey, our bodies undergo several changes and so do our nutritional needs. It is quite fascinating to see that our physicality and mentality subtly transforms with every passing year, and before you know it, we start feeling frail and less able to do the things that we could once do effortlessly. It is, therefore, extremely important to pay attention to our body’s needs, listen to what it’s trying to tell us and respond accordingly.

One of the most important factors that keep our system robust is proper nutrition. Food is a source of joy as well as nourishment. It is through the food we consume every day that we can ensure that we stay in good health, irrespective of our stage of life.

You need to ensure that you get all the necessary dietary components in the right proportion for the proper functioning of your body. These components include (but are not limited to) protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber, water, and so on.

Mentioned ahead are the dietary requirements of an average person through the various stages of his life.

Newborns (0 – 6 months)

Breastmilk is the best source of food for newborns. It is also enough to meet all their nutritional demands. It is natural and contains everything they need to grow and develop. If your baby is not having breastmilk for whatever reason, you can feed him alternate infant formula. Please be advised that not all formulas adhere to nutritional guidelines.

While breastfeeding is a great way for the mother and the child to bond, it can feel a little uncomfortable at first, but soon starts to feel normal.

Most moms and babies experience little or no problems with breastfeeding, but some might not be successful. In such cases, it is advisable to speak to a doctor about it who might suggest some alternative techniques.

Toddlers (7 months – 3 years)

Typically, it is in the second half of the first year of the baby, that he starts to learn more and more about food and begins to recognize its sight, taste, and smell.

This means that the baby can be introduced to solid food as well. You need to make the transition a smooth one by feeding him small quantities of iron-rich foods like cereal, pureed meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit dishes, cooked lentils, legumes and beans.

Gradually, you can increase the thickness and chunkiness of the food and help him changeover to a solid diet. You can keep things simple by feeding him the same food that you cook for your family (So basically, what you eat matters too).

Breastmilk/formula will continue to be your toddler’s main food during his first year, but you might also want to introduce him to water (boiled and cooled). Once your toddler gets used to a variety of food, he can start enjoying a proper healthy family diet.

Young Children (4 – 12 years)

These are the formative years in a child’s life and this when they are most active and therefore, their energy and nutritional requirements are very high. They’re bound to feel hungry frequently and will eat whatever food they can get their hands on. So, make sure they eat healthy.

You need to include components from the five food groups in their everyday diet to ensure their healthy physical and mental development. This includes feeding them fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, poultry, grains, legumes and beans. You can also give them nuts.

As a parent, you need to watch what you eat. Make sure you set a good example to follow for your children when it comes to choosing healthy meals over junk fare. Eat the right foods so that they can watch and learn from you.

Adolescents (13 – 19 years)

This is an important phase of life as far as your child’s development is concerned. During these years, children transform into adolescents by undergoing puberty. They experience various hormonal changes, which leads to changes in their physical appearance, which may also influence their mentality.

In addition to the components from the five food groups, adolescents also need to consume at least 6 to 8 glasses of water in a day. They need to eat more natural foods rather than fried and salty foods and sugary beverages to keep obesity at bay. Furthermore, they also need to get enough exercise and physical activity to stay fit.

Adulthood

Adults need to balance their body weight with their nutritional needs and eat accordingly. Differences in people’s body mass, metabolism, activity levels, and even gender determine their dietary requirements. This means adults need to exercise great care with their food.

While adults have a range of food to choose from, they need to significantly reduce the consumption of foods that fall outside the five food groups. In addition, they need to drink plenty of water, limit saturated fats, as well as lower their salt, sugar, and alcohol intake.

Elderly (60 years onwards)

Many older adults tend to let themselves go and stop watching their diet, when actually they should be exercising most caution at this stage of life.

The focus should be on consuming fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrain cereal, fish, poultry, lean meat, and low-fat dairy, which help meet their protein, fiber, calcium and vitamin needs. Vitamin D is also important for maintaining bone health.

It helps to eat small meals through the day, rather than 3 heavy meals. Additionally, it is better to consume soft food as it can be chewed and digested effortlessly.

Conclusion

While eating the right food can do a lot of you, its main purpose is to provide your body with the fuel it requires to keep it going. It is important to stay fit and healthy at all stages of life to be independent and be able to do as you please.

Author: Korie Cantor