Kids’ Nutrition Amid Covid-19
We’ve been seeing hilarious memes on social media of children quarantined at home eating up all the food and causing their parents grief. Supermarket shelves around Nairobi look unusually empty. A testament to just how much people have stockpiled food at home. Many families are indulging in ‘comfort eating’ amid the pandemic.
Stress eating is understandable during times like these but where do we draw the line? We still need to stay fit and healthy even if we’re stuck at home with not much to do. Proper nutrition is essential. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize our kids’ health which can lead them to gain unmanageable kilos during this period.
Time to take control of your child(ren)s’ nutrition. Here’s how:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a balanced breakfast with protein is a great way for your child to start their day. Protein can help them stay fuller longer and reduce unnecessary snacking. It can even help teens with weight control.
Try these recommendations by Dr. Esther Dindi. You can choose what works best for your child from this list:
- Egg sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
- Natural yogurt.
- Peanut butter on whole-grain toast.
- Hard-boiled eggs, toast, and an apple.
Mid Morning Snack
A mid-morning snack is totally optional. If your kids eat a healthy, filling snack, they may not feel hungry until lunchtime. However, if they do crave a snack, They can have any of these:
- One fruit
- One cup plain yogurt
- Small portion of nuts
Midday meals should have a proper balance of carbs and protein. The kids are active around this time so high energy foods are key. Here are some suggestions you can choose from:
- Brown rice and curry
- Githeri and Avocado
- Ugali, lean beef/fish and green vegetables
Last meal of the day shouldn’t be as heavy as lunch as kids aren’t as active in the evening. Here are some ideas:
- One wholemeal Chapati and beans
- Beef broth and a piece of ugali
- Green vegetables and curry eggs
Make sure kids hydrate all day. The more water they drink, the less hungry they’ll feel.
Meal time is family time
Sitting down at the table as a family is an important part of establishing healthy eating habits. Kids with less screentime eat less and you can monitor what they eat at the table.
A meal plan will help you prepare nutritional food for the kids all week. See image below of a great meal plan prepared by our friends at Mum’s Village
Here are more tips from the World Food Program:
Fortified foods and supplements
Depending on your situation, fortified foods and supplements may be required or combined with meals to supply required nutrients, especially in contexts where diets are of poor quality and limited quantity due to food insecurity.
Don’t forget to also squeeze in some physical activity! The World Health Organization recommends 30 minutes of physical activity a day for adults, and one hour a day for children. If allowed, go outside for a walk or a run, while keeping a safe distance from others. If you cannot leave the house, find an exercise video online, dance to music, do some yoga, or walk up and down the stairs.
Foods to avoid
Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt (heavily processed foods) are not considered part of a healthy diet. It’s particularly important at this moment to avoid these foods, as they do not provide any nutritional benefit.
*Here is a very detailed publication on Chidrens’ nutrition by Kenya Nutritionists and Dieticians Institute (KNDI)
Stay healthy, Stay safe.