How many calories does a girl need every day to grow into a healthy adult? What can you, as a parent do to meet these essential calorie requirements for your daughter? Read on to find out!
Do you know that the calorie requirement for girls is different from boys? Do you know what your little girl should consume each day to reach her calorie count? What about liquid intake? Do you know how much is needed for her body? Let's find out.
Every human being needs energy for normal functioning. Energy is derived from the foods we consume, in the form of calories. It gets depleted through various functions and activities.
The word 'calorie' is no more jargon — most of us are aware of its role in the well-being of a person. A calorie, by its simplest definition, is a unit of energy, equivalent to 4.184 Joule. The commonly used measure of a food calorie actually refers to a kilocalorie (Kcal) or 1000 cal.
The calorie requirement of an individual depends upon the following factors — age, sex, height, weight, Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and level of physical activity. Age and gender affect metabolic rate and therefore, influence one's caloric allowance.
Energy requirements of adolescents are higher to support pubertal growth and development. When they reach puberty, girls need more calories than before but they tend to need fewer calories than boys. Boys experience greater increases in height, weight and lean body mass than girls and hence require more energy.
After BMR, physical activity determines your child's daily caloric allowance. Lower the physical activity level, lesser the calorie allowance and vice-a-versa. In addition, the height and weight of your child also determine her calorie allowance.
National Institute of Nutrition, under the Indian Council of Medical Research, proposes the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Indians (2010). RDA can be defined as the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of healthy individuals in an age and gender-specific group. The energy requirement of each individual differs, based on one's state of energy balance and other factors affecting food consumption and health.
If your child's energy requirement per day is close to 2000 Kcal, a balanced diet should provide around 50-60% of her total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates (whole grains and fiber-rich cereals), about 10-15% from proteins (pulses, egg, milk, meat and fish) and 20-30% from both visible (oils, ghee, margarine) and invisible fat (naturally present in foods).
As stated by the National Institute of Nutrition, in India, 70-80% of total dietary calories are derived from carbohydrates present in plant foods such as cereals, millets and pulses. Understanding the number of calories present in each food group will help you plan out a balanced diet for your child.
One gram of carbohydrate yields 4 Kcal; a gram of protein yields 4 Kcal; and a gram of fat yields 9 Kcal. This implies that if you know how many grams of each food group your child consumes in her food every day, you can approximately calculate her total calories consumed. You would multiply the number of grams by the number of calories in a gram of that particular food component. For example, if a serving of biscuit has 10 grams of fat, it yields 90 calories (10 grams x 9 calories per gram).
Therefore, it is wise to include all the food groups in the right proportions to avoid deficiency or excess of energy and other nutrients as well. Also, it is necessary to understand that energy is not a matter of consumption alone; the number of calories consumed will have to be burnt in the form of physical activity. Excess calories consumed will be converted and stored as fat in the body which might lead to non-communicable diseases. Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet; reduce sedentary behavior (watching TV, playing on mobiles, computers and PlayStations); and expose her to a set physical activity pattern. Inculcate the habit of reading food labels while purchasing foods and try to understand and explain the number of nutrients mentioned in them.
Based on your child's food choices and your cooking time you can cook interesting and innovative recipes including the different groups, balancing the calorie load.
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