A balanced diet can give your body the nutrients that it needs to function properly. A balanced diet is very important because our organs and tissues need proper nutrition. Our body is more prone to diseases, infections, fatigue and poor performance if it is malnourished.
Importance of a Good Diet for Students
Research has shown that students are able to learn better when well-nourished. Eating a healthy meal is directly linked to alertness, higher grades, better memory, and faster information processing. Foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and fat such as yogurt, egg, oatmeal, and apples provide enough energy to stay focused throughout the entire day.
The following examples of daily calories intake are based on USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
Children of ages 2 to 6 years
1000 to 1400 calories
Girls of ages 9 to 13 years
1400 to 1600 calories
Boys of ages 9 to 13 years
1600 to 2000 calories
|Above 13 years students
Common Nutrient Deficiencies Among Students
Sometimes students get caught up in busy schedules and forget to nourish their bodies’ energy sources appropriately, which exposes them to the risk of developing various nutrient deficiencies.
Who says that a healthy diet should be of the lowest priority for the students due to their busy schedules? Limited access to healthy food, peer pressure, lack of finances and lifestyle changes are some of the reasons why students skip meals and their food intake is often disordered or non-existent.
The lack of vitamin B12 is prevalent in a large population, especially students. This particular vitamin is water-soluble. If we don’t have enough vitamin B12, we are likely to develop a deficiency. Students who are vegans or vegetarians can encourage their vitamin B12 intake with the help of a physician.
Zinc is found in lentils, tempeh and meat products. In vegans or vegetarians and alcoholics, zinc deficiency is more common. Lack of zinc in one’s body results in a weak immune system and a lack of appetite.
Calcium deficiency is common in women and girls. The lack of calcium can cause brittle nails, restless leg syndrome, and constant tiredness.
If we constantly fail to consume healthy nutrient-rich foods, the chances are high that we could develop one of these deficiencies.
Solution to Nutrient Deficiency in Students
“Eat the rainbow” is a phrase that many nutritionists use to help people remember to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet. This includes:
Apart from being a great source of nutrition, fruits also make for tasty snacks. Fruits are high in sugar. Naturally, blueberries and bell peppers, and other such colorful foods contain antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and many other nutrients that help prevent problems such as dental cavities, obesity, iron deficiency, osteoporosis and support healthy growth.
Orange and yellow foods are abundant in vitamin C and vitamin A that prevent cell damage, support eyesight and healthy joints and lower cholesterol. Green foods and veggies like asparagus, avocado, spinach are high in vitamin K, vitamin B, and vitamin E, which improves digestion and supports healthy bones. Purple foods are high in vitamin C and vitamin K, which helps with memory and a healthy heart.
Vegetables are the primary source of vitamins and minerals. Leafy, dark green vegetables generally contain most nutrition and can be eaten with every meal. Examples of green leafy vegetables include spinach, kale, green beans, collard greens, swiss chard.
The list below shows food and snack ideas from each color of the rainbow that will provide us will all kinds of nutritional needs
Vegetables Based on Color
|Decrease blood pressure
|Healthy blood vessels
|Help sell renewal
|Helps the urinary system
People consume refined white flour more than any other grain. Refined white flour has poor nutritional value. Whole grain, however, is prepared using the entire grain, including hull, that provides much more nutrition. So we should try switching from white bread and pasta to whole-grain products.
Beans and meats are the primary sources of proteins, a nutrient that’s essential for proper muscle and brain development. Low-fat meats such as chicken, certain cuts of pork and beef and fish are the best options. Beans and nuts are a good source of protein and contain many other health benefits. Thus, try to include these in your diet more- walnuts, sunflower, almonds, peas, beans, lentils.
Dairy products provide vitamin D, calcium and other essential nutrients. They are also a major source of fat. Plant-based milk such as soy or almond is typically fortified with calcium and other nutrients, making excellent alternatives to milk.
Good oil such as olive oil can replace fatter vegetable-based oil in our diet. Try to avoid deep-fried food because they contain only empty calories.
Suggestions for Picky Eaters
- For the students who are picky eaters, parents should offer more variety in their food.
- Parents could always provide a well-accepted food along with other varieties.
- Incorporate less liked foods in a familiar way.
- Institute a two-bite or taste rule
Eating healthy means avoiding food with high rates of added salt and sugar. A healthy diet includes a variety of food like vegetables, fruits of many colors, good fats and lean proteins.
The Center for Science in the Public interest reported that four of the top ten leading causes of death are directly influenced by diet, so taking care of our daily diet is our own responsibility. For more detailed information you can read a detailed information of Nutrition for School AGed Childs.