NUTRITION: Balanced and healthy diet, key to good nutrition

The best time for a nursing mother to introduce delicious new foods and teach healthy eating habits to her child is when he is one year old.

The Daily Nutritional Guide Pyramid for Filipino Children (1-6 years old) developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) recommends giving the child a glass of milk daily. The nursing mother can now introduce whole milk into her child’s diet aside from breastmilk because the digestive system can now handle large proteins found in milk. Not only that whole milk contains calcium and fat, so the mother can be assured that her child meets his nutritional requirement.

Aside from milk, the mother can also start giving her child fresh fruit or fresh fruit juice as they are rich sources of vitamins and mineral which he needs for his growth and development. The nutrients found in fruits help boost the child’s immune system. The recommended intake is 1 to 2 medium size fruit (e.g. 1 small apple, 1 piece banana, 1 small orange) or 1 slice of a big fruit (1 slice ripe mango, 1 slice ripe papaya). The child should be given also at least 4-7 glasses of water everyday.

From ages one to two years, the mother should see to it that her child gets 1,100 to 1,200 calories from solid foods. The recommended intake per day for carbohydrate-rich foods is 2 to 4 1/2 servings; for protein-rich foods, 1 to 1 1/3 serving(s); for fats and oils, 6 teaspoons and; for vegetables, 1/3 to 1/2 cup serving(s). Below is the equivalent of one serving portion of common foods.

Carbohydrate-rich foods (rice, rice products, corn, root crops, bread, noodles) 1 serving
= 1 cup rice
= 4 slices loaf bread
= 5 pcs small pandesal
= 2 cups noodle
= 1 cup corn
= 2 cups noodle
= 2 slices puto

Protein-rich foods (fish, shellfish, meat & poultry, dried beans and nuts, eggs) 1 serving
= 1 piece medium size fish
= 1/3 cup shellfish shelled
= 3 cm cube cooked pork/beef/chicken
= 1 piece chicken egg
= 1/3 cup cooked dried beans/nuts
= 1 slice cheese

Fats and oils
1 teaspoon coconut oil (5g)
= 1 tablespoon coconut cream
= 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
= 1 teaspoon margarine/butter
= 2 teaspoon peanut butter

1 serving of leafy vegetables
= 1 cup raw or cup cooked
1 serving of other vegetables
= 12 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked

The mother should remember that her child’s nutritional needs are very different from hers. She should make it a point to give her child the right amount of a variety of foods everyday so that he could meet his nutritional requirements for his healthy growth and development.

The mother should also remember that a balanced and healthy diet is the best way for her child to get most, if not all the nutrients he needs. She should instill love for fruits and vegetable during his child’s early age. (Based from FNRI Digest, “Recommended kind and amount of food: key to child’s good nutrition” written by Catherine Rose P. Josue)