Understanding the sodium needs of children
Most children tend to eat more sodium than they really ought to. An appropriate amount of sodium in food is very vital for good health - it is required to maintain normal fluid levels in the body and is necessary for optimal muscle and nerve function. Conversely, an excessive amount of sodium contributes to hypertension and is a big risk for cardiac diseases. It is very crucial that you understand that consuming large quantities of sodium during childhood has widespread ramifications as the child’s age progresses.
Dietary habits that are practiced during childhood have a huge bearing on the eating patterns in adult life. It would be easier if a child does not develop a fondness for overly salty food in the very first place! This can be achieved if you give your child a diet that contains all nutrients in the right quantity. There is strong substantiation that shows that a high sodium diet in children raises their blood pressure and makes them susceptible to – cardiac ailments, respiratory illnesses, osteoporosis, obesity and even cancer.
Huge contributors of sodium in a child’s diet
Most processed and packaged foods contain large amounts of sodium. Your aim should be to cut back on them. Here are certain packaged foods which are loaded with sodium:
• Biscuits and cookies
• Breakfast cereal
• Bottled ketchup, dips and sauces
• Wafers and chips!
• Instant noodles
• Canned soups
• Salted nuts
• Flavoured popcorn
• Fast food
Ways to reduce sodium in the diet
While going easy with the salt shaker at the dining table is a good solution, there are also other ways that help reduce the overload of sodium from your diet, leading to a low sodium diet. Here are 5 doctor-approved hacks to restrict your sodium intake.
1. Include whole, nutritious foods into your diet at all times and steer clear of processed, canned and packaged foods.
2. Drastically cut back on packaged snacks; whenever you do buy packaged foods, select those which contain less than 120mg sodium per 100g and shun all those which contain more than 600 mg sodium per 100g. Give your child yummy, yet super nutritious snacks - fresh fruits, dry fruits, sprouts bhel, unsalted nuts, yoghurt, popcorn, chilla, idli, dhokla and scores of other healthy snacks that can be dished up in minutes.
3. Use ketchup, soy sauce, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, bottled dips and marinades extremely cautiously.
4. Read labels very carefully- always check the nutritional information and opt for those foods that have less sodium.
5. Encourage your children to come and shop with you as well as to plan the menu; teach and develop an interest about a healthy lifestyle.
Iodine plays a pivotal role in the normal growth and development of a child. The body requires iodine for the synthesis of thyroid hormones which control growth, neuro-cognitive development, metabolism, heart rate and various other essential functions. Insufficiency of this vital element hinders the manufacture of the thyroid hormones and triggers hypothyroidism. The peril is the most during the child’s first 3 years when all the critical growth and development take place. It’s a period when you need to ensure that the thyroid levels stay normal. For this, you should make sure that your child’s diet consists of iodized salt every day, seeing to it that there’s enough iodised salt in food. The pioneer of salt iodization in India, Tata Salt, holds the merit of being India's first national branded iodized salt. Tata Salt offers you healthy, hygienic, iodized vacuum evaporated salt that’s untouched by hand.
Homemade snacks and meals that have been cooked using fresh, whole ingredients are lower in sodium levels, compared to ready-to-eat meals, packaged foods, takeaways and processed products. A healthy diet which includes homemade food and occasional indulgences during childhood ensures that the child does not develop a penchant for unhealthy. Habits that are forged during childhood continue all through into adulthood, so make sure that you regulate your child’s sodium intake today!
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