The right to good nutrition is one of the key factors that determine the overall well-being of a person. Undeniably, it will support an individual to attain good health status and normal growth and development. Thus, to make people aware and understand the significance of nutrition, every year National Nutrition Week (NNW) is celebrated from September 1-7. NNW is an annual event initiated by the Food and Nutrition Board under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Furthermore, NNW also stresses choosing wholesome foods for promoting the better health of the populace. A healthy diet plays an essential role in the upliftment of the physical and mental well-being of the person. A wholesome and varied eating habits enhance the quality of life, whereas a poor diet might increase the risk of illness and morbidity.
“Feeding smart right from start” is the theme for this year National Nutrition Week, the government organisations have designed several programs to convey proper information and create awareness through seminars, camps, and other events to offer every child and citizen of the country on how children can benefit from getting the adequate nutrients and healthier diet right from the birth. The key objective of the NNW is to promote nutritional practice awareness among the population via adopting training, education, seminars, various competitions, roadshows, and many other promotional activities to make a healthier Nation.
According to the latest report published in the Global Hunger Index, 2020 India has been ranked 94th out of 107 countries. As per UNICEF’s data in India, nearly 50% of all deaths in children under 5 are caused due to undernutrition. This condition puts children at a higher risk of dying from common infections and worsens during pandemics. The nation needs to augment the nutritional status of the population on an urgent basis. This should be addressed as a collective battle with assistance from both governments, private and other non-government organizations.
For the upliftment of any country, it is vital for the nation to improve the overall nutritional status of the populace. With this aim POSHAN Abhiyan, 2018-2022 was introduced to minimize child under-nutrition and low-birth by 2% a year and anaemia across all age-groups by 3% and create a huge movement for good nutritional well-being in the country. One of the unique and defining features of this is POSHAN Abhiyan is Jan Andolan, that works in creating a social drive in the month of September - a month-long event aimed to improve social behaviour, change communication, and mass mobilisation to increase the coverage of essential nutrition in interventions.
Importance Of Feeding Smart, Right From The Start
The key feature of feeding smart is to confer optimal nutrition to the new-born in the first two years of life - early and exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, along with nutritionally adequate, hygienic, and age-appropriate complementary feeding starting from 6 months are crucial to prevent stunting in infants and early childhood and halt the cycle of undernutrition.
Need For Complementary Feeding
From six months onwards the nutrients and energy demand of the infants begins to exceed than what is given by breast milk, hence complementary foods or weaning the child is essential to meet this increasing need.
Principles for appropriate complementary feeding include:
- Continue frequent, on-need breastfeeding until 2 years of age or beyond.
- Feed infants slowly and patiently, motivates them to eat but do not force them and always engage with the child and maintain eye contact.
- Follow good hygiene and proper food handling methods.
- Start with small amounts of food initially and increase gradually as the child gets older.
- Slowly modify food consistency and add variety
- Increase the feed as per age of the infants: 2-3 meals per day for infants 6-8 months of age and 3-4 meals per day for infants 9-23 months of age, with 1-2 additional snacks as needed.
- Choose fortified complementary foods o supplements as needed and during any illness, increase fluid intake including continued breastfeeding and other soft easily digestible foods.
Healthy Eating Tips For Kids
True, healthy eating habits start at home; hence it is pivotal to give your child healthy and nutritious food for their growth and development. It is also important to provide your child with adequate information about good eating practices , which can ultimately help the child make healthy food choices.
Follow Some Of These Measures:
- Try to keep a bowl of fresh fruit with easy reach on the kitchen table and offer fruit as a snack or if the child is still hungry after meals.
- Ensure to stock your pantry and fridge with an array of wholesome and nutritious options, instead of storing junk foods.
- Incorporate fruit and vegetables of varied colours, textures, and tastes. The more variety there is, the more chance for the child to find something interested to eat.
- Make your kid involved in planning and preparing meals, if the child has helped to make the meal, this will make kid to more likely to enjoy the meal and eat it.
- Make sure to have healthy meals as a family as often as possible.
- Switch the TV off while eating, as this would help the child to focus on food available on the plate and make healthy food choices.