The appropriate nutrition pyramid for preschool children is the basis for choosing foods that ensure adequate nutrition for children’s health and development. Based on the nutrition pyramid for preschool children, parents and schools can help children build a scientific and reasonable diet. The Children’s Nutrition Pyramid also helps children develop varied and healthy eating habits.
1. What is the balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children?
The balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children is a pyramid model that provides information about the recommended food groups and should not be used in the daily meals of preschool and kindergarten children from 3 to 5 years old. Based on the nutrition pyramid, parents and caregivers (schools and kindergartens) can build a proper diet to ensure adequate nutrition for preschool children so that children can develop. Both physically and mentally.
Eat a variety of foods. In addition, based on the balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children, parents and caregivers can easily choose foods suitable for children’s needs and development, helping children form good habits. In addition, the nutrition pyramid also notes which foods should be limited in children so that they can balance the amount of food consumed by children, ensuring that the nutrition of preschool children is not unbalanced.
At each age, the nutritional pyramid will be different. Therefore, it is necessary to rely on the balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children to help them build and form a scientific diet and habits.
2. Nutrition pyramid for preschool children
According to the nutrition pyramid for preschool children, five main groups of substances must be ensured to provide enough for children, including protein, starch, fat, vitamins, and minerals, classified into seven food groups according to priority level. Descending from bottom to top as follows:
Water: Preschoolers must drink about six glasses daily, 220ml/glass, equivalent to 1.3 liters of water. However, it should be noted that this amount of water includes milk, fruit juice, and filtered water. In particular, when the weather is hot, children can drink more.
Grains: According to the nutrition pyramid for children from 3 to 5 years old, cereals are the second-ranked food group, after water. Cereals are the primary powder source for children, helping to convert energy for children to function. Preschoolers need 5-6 units of cereal/per day; 1 unit of cereal is equivalent to 1 loaf of bread (27g) and half a cup of rice (55g). In the cereal group, priority should be given to rice, noodles, vermicelli, and bread, … because these are starchy foods and provide many other essential nutrients.
Vegetables and fruits: After cereals, vegetables are the third most crucial food group according to the nutritional pyramid for preschool children. Every day, children 3 – 5 years old need four units of vegetables, two units each, and each unit corresponds to about 80g.
Protein: The protein group includes animal protein (meat, fish, shrimp, crab, egg, …) and vegetable protein (nuts), in which consuming vegetable protein is better for health. For children, protein plays a vital role in helping children develop both physically and mentally. Every day, preschool children need about 3.5 units of protein, corresponding to about 30-35g of pork and fish and 40-50g of chicken and eggs. Although vegetable protein is better, care should be taken to ensure that children consume both types of protein in a balanced manner.
Milk and dairy products: According to the balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children, children in this age group 4 units of milk per day to ensure their development. One unit of milk corresponds to about 100ml of fresh or powdered milk mixed with water, 15g of cheese, and 100g of yogurt.
Grease: Preschoolers and preschoolers still need about five fat units daily; each unit corresponds to 5g of fat or cooking oil and 6g of butter.
Sugar, salt: Located at the top of the pyramid, salted sugar is the last priority food group, meaning that children still need to provide sugar and salt at a minimal level. According to the balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children, children need less than 3g of salt and less than three units of sugar per day (<15g of sugar), in which salt is the primary source of iodine for the body.
3. Building a menu based on a nutrition pyramid for children
3.1 Principles of building menus based on nutrition pyramids for preschoolers
Based on the nutrition pyramid for preschool children to create a menu for children, it is necessary to ensure the following factors:
Provide enough energy for children: It is necessary to provide children with various essential substances such as starch, fiber, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, ensuring energy for children to function and develop comprehensively. Specifically, the energy needs of children 3 – 5 years old are about 1,230 – 1,320 kcal/day.
Food variety: In each food group, children should be given various foods to change their tastes to help them eat more deliciously, to ensure a variety of nutrients, and at the same time to help children eat better. Children develop healthy eating habits. However, parents should note that the nutritional pyramid for children is different from that of adults, so there are foods that are very good for adults but not suitable for children. Besides, it is also not advisable to change foods between groups.
Menus are built according to the seasons and children’s preferences: To make children love eating, especially those who are picky eaters leading to malnutrition, parents should develop a menu according to the season and priorities of the child. In particular, with fruits and vegetables, choose seasonal varieties.
Choosing safe foods: Besides ensuring that they provide enough nutrients according to the balanced nutritional pyramid for preschool children, parents must also select safe foods, not spoiled, rotten, or chemicals, before processing not to affect children’s health.
Note for children with allergies: Some children may be allergic to foods such as eggs, milk, nuts, and bitter melon;… Therefore, it is necessary to monitor the child’s reaction. When introducing new food to a child for the first time, avoid it in subsequent uses.
3.2 Suggested menu based on nutrition pyramid for preschoolers
Based on the nutrition pyramid for preschoolers, it is possible to build a menu for each meal for children. Accordingly, 3-5-year-olds need three main meals and 2-3 snacks per day to ensure an adequate supply of energy and necessary nutrients. Breakfast and dinner account for 25%/of meals, lunch for 40% of energy, and dinner for 10%. In each meal, the proportion of groups of substances is distributed as follows: starch accounts for 52-60%, protein accounts for 13-20%, and fat accounts for 25-35%.
The following are suggested menus according to the nutrition pyramid for preschoolers:
- Breakfast: 1 bowl of soup.
- Breakfast snack: 1 glass of milk 200ml.
- Lunch:: 1 cup of rice, braised fish, vegetable soup cooked with minced meat, and oranges.
- Afternoon snack: 1 cup of yogurt 100ml.
- Afternoon dinner: 1 cup of rice, braised chicken, hot vegetable soup cooked with shrimp and banana.
- Evening snack: 1 glass of milk 200ml.
The balanced nutrition pyramid for preschool children is the basis for choosing foods and building menus to ensure a healthy and scientific diet while providing enough nutrients for children to be healthy and develop. In addition to nutrition, parents also need to pay attention to the notes regarding dental hygiene for preschool children. Because at this age, many children still do not know how to brush and adequately clean their teeth.
In addition to the nutritional diet, children must be supplemented with zinc daily to eat well, reach the correct height and weight and exceed the standard. Zinc plays a role in affecting most biological processes taking place in the body, especially the breakdown of nucleic acids and proteins… Organs in the body when zinc deficiency can lead to a There are several diseases such as neurological disorders, irritability, etc. Therefore, parents need to learn about the role of zinc and guide them to appropriate zinc supplementation for their children.
In addition to zinc, parents also need to supplement their children with other essential vitamins and minerals such as lysine, chromium, and B vitamins,…