As the warmer weather encourages afternoons spent swimming in the pool, games of soccer, t-ball and tag, a child’s nutrient stores can be used up at a higher rate than during the winter months. These high energy months of summer can often change the nutritional requirements for children. Although these requirements are constantly changing, not just with the seasons but with their growth pattern and even with childhood stressors, children will tend to vary their food intake spontaneously to match their growth patterns.
Ideally, young children should be consistently accumulating stores of nutrients in preparation for the rapid growth spurt experienced during adolescence. Most children, when provided with a variety of nutrient dense foods, will consume the nutrients and energy they need when they are given the responsibility for how much they eat. Like energy needs, a child’s needs for protein, vitamins and minerals increase with age, activity level and during times of stress. When a child’s ability to regulate their food intake is reduced they can lose their ability to respond to their internal hunger and satiety signals. Losing the ability to interpret hunger signals can lead to over-eating and increase the chance of childhood obesity.
Keeping children hydrated during the summer months is also essential. Dehydration can occur when they expel more fluid than they take in. Their bodies lose fluid each day through breathing, perspiration and urination and this water must be replaced continuously. Water is fundamental to health and is involved in nearly every bodily function. During hot weather, especially during play, children lose more fluid so it’s critical to replace this fluid by drinking extra water throughout the day.
Young children have small stomachs and high energy needs and should have small, frequent meals throughout the day. Providing regularly scheduled meals and snacks instills security and comfort around food, provides energy as needed and helps to develop healthy eating patterns. At Childventures, we know that the food we feed our children today influences not only their health during their childhood but also into adulthood. The foods they eat and the eating habits they develop as children will also influence how they will feed their own children.
Providing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, healthy fats and water are the foundation of our summer menu. Preparing fresh foods helps to minimize additives and preservatives found in pre-packaged foods, enhances the taste and provides a consistent source of nutrients necessary to support optimal health and vitality. Whether it is needed because of increased summer activities, childhood stressors or growth of the mind and body, at Childventures each day offers a wide variety of food that expand their tastes and provide the nutrients needed to thrive now and in the years to come.