nutritional needs of an Indian girl child

Nutrition is one of the basic human needs and a prerequisite for growth. A proper diet gives us all that our body needs in abundance or the desired quantity. Consumption of food depends mainly on production and distribution. The absorption of our food further influences how impactful it is in our dietary regimen. 

Why is nutrition an essential topic to discuss today?

  1. Globally, 1 in 3 female children under five years of age is underdeveloped due to malnutrition. Many girl kids are stunted or overweight.
  2. Globally, 1 in 2 female children under five years of age grapples with hidden hunger due to deficits in vitamins and other essential nutrients.
  3. Undernutrition continues to take a toll on the girl children worldwide.
  4. The year 2018 saw around 200 million children under five with stunted growth.
  5. The same year saw 340 million children with hidden hunger. 
  6. Although the number of stunted female children declines, the population of overweight or obese girls is rising.
  7. A stunted girl child depicts that she isn’t developing adequately. It’s a sign of impoverishment.

How different are Indian girl kids from those in the other parts of the world?

  1. The Indian girls may be as tall as Caucasian girls till their puberty begins.
  2. Indian children, irrespective of their gender, witness slow growth rate after their puberty. Girl kids are more prone to slow growth.
  3. Starting from the fifth year through the eleventh year, the height difference between Indian girls and Caucasian girls continues widening.
  4. The average difference between these two ethnic groups continues to widen.

Dietary patterns in India:

The dietary regimens in India are diverse. Most Indian children followed a vegetarian diet earlier. Now that fast foods and their popularity is rising, we see more girls preferring fast foods often. Although the previous generations focused on homemade meals, we now see the picture changing every year. Most Indian girls still end up consuming foods rich in carbohydrates and low in proteins. 

A few guidelines to ensure that your girl child receives opulent nutrition:

  1. Although scientific literature is subject to change based on various factors, everyone needs excellent nourishment and sustained growth. 
  2. WHO recommends regular breastfeeding of the infants exclusively for the first six months.
  3. Mothers should continue to breastfeed their girl kids till they complete the second year of their life. 
  4. In the late infancy and early childhood, female children should receive apt food. 
  5. In this phase, we recommend you to provide your girl child with the supplements of iron and other nutrients as needed. 
  6. Keep a close watch on the pattern of your girl child’s development.
  7. Verify the developmental phases against the nutritional benchmark in the community.
  8. It is perhaps the best way to identify and address problems such as vitamin and mineral deficits and untreated infections. 
  9. Some cases may require you to treat your girl child for anything like a localized infection. 
  10. Since each child is different, the nutrition in such conditions tends to differ from child to child. 
  11. Most essential supplements to rely on are iodine, vitamin A and iron.
  12. Iron is vital to the girl child’s cognitive development in the first two years of life.
  13. Statistics denote that boys get iron-rich supplement whereas a girl child lags it.
  14. Many female children are at high risk of developing iron deficiency.
  15. Increase in the intake of iodized salt and iron supplement matters mainly till a girl reaches her prepubescence. 

Below are the details about the food habits from toddlerhood to childhood:

When a baby starts increasing her intake on solid food, include rice, cereals, milk or fruits in her diet. Your girl child gradually starts relying on a diet full of fruits and vegetables. This phase is ideal for you to cook foods without artificial sweeteners. You may consider dairy products in her diet as they aid in brain development. When she is about to cross the third year of her life, it’s necessary to include protein in the diet. A rise in her interaction with her buddies may extend her dependence on sweets and packaged foods. Keep artificial sweeteners away from her. Lunch and snacks are the two necessary meals in this phase. Fresh fruits, bananas, oranges, apples and other vegetables benefit enormously in this phase.

If your child loves to volunteer, allow her to accompany you as you cook. Start styling the vegetables now as this fancy phase in her life is there to stay but not forever. These swift developmental phases mean a lot to her and her childhood. If your child shows any sensitivity to proteins or gluten or albumin, consult the right paediatrician. It’s when her innate immunity develops to complement adaptive and humoral immunity. And food habits she cultivates here will accompany her throughout her pubescence and future. Stockpile your house with all that includes fibre and leguminous content.

Now comes the phase between middle and late adolescence:

The phase between middle and late adolescence witnesses that girls consume 25% fewer calories than boys. It may contribute to energy deficits in girls. A healthy dietary regimen is a doorway to low stress and below-average anxiety. The period around teenage marks the outset of their menstrual periods. And therefore, make sure that they don’t lose out on iron intake. We recommend you to substantially include low-fat dairies, proteinaceous substances, beans and sunlight for Vitamin D in your diet. 

Late years of the teenage:

It’s the late teenage years when they acquire their orthopaedic strength. Many girls in this phase develop disorders like Anorexia or Orthorexia. Prefer calcium-rich foods for your princess. Nothing replaces sunlight as the source of Vitamin D now. Now is the time when a healthy lifestyle starts benefiting your whole family.

Conclusion:

India remains home to the highest number of stunted girl kids. Good health is a hallmark of healthy growth in all walks of life. Nutrition for women should enable them to form a pivotal part of society as they always are. We should take every necessary step so that they shine out as the productive members of the family. The government should take initiatives to strengthen essential health services. Health departments/advisories should promote suitable dietary plans on various levels.  

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