Meal plans and recipes

What should your child eat?

Nisha Joshi
Written by Nisha Joshi
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Nutrition of children is hugely different from adult nutrition. Basically, children are required to consume a wider range of nutrients because they are developing. They need a higher range of important minerals and vitamins, along with protein and calcium.

As parents, we are always worried whether our children are getting a balanced diet. We try to include everything, but aren’t sure whether it is enough or if it is correct. Don’t worry. We give you a comprehensive list of what you can include in your kid’s diet daily, so that they get all-round nutrition.

Protein

Protein is necessary for building body cells, breaking down food into energy, fighting infection and carrying oxygen. Children need a higher level of proteins in their daily diet, because their immunity levels are still low and they need lots of energy for physical activities as well as physical and mental growth. Foods that are high in protein are:

  1. Meat: If you cook meat at home, include this in a regular diet. If you don’t cook at home, don’t order from outside, just to add it to the menu. You never know how it is cleaned and cooked outside.
  2. Fish: Fish meat is extremely high in proteins, and is even better than red meat.
  3. Eggs (mainly egg-whites)
  4. Nuts: If you’re giving him a snack box to munch on, make sure it’s dry fruits and nuts, rather than biscuits
  5. Beans
  6. Milk and dairy products

Carbohydrates

Nowadays, there is this fad of low-carb diets going around. However, please note that such diets are not for kids. Carbohydrates form the most important part of a child’s diet because they are the highest source of energy. They also help children to use fat and protein to build and repair body tissues. Kids are highly active and thus they need more energy through their food. Carbohydrates are found in many forms, like starch, fiber and sugars, but make sure your children consume more of starches and fibers and less of sugars. Foods high in carbs are:

  1. Bread (includes rotis)
  2. Rice: unpolished is better, although the other version is also good. Make sure you choose a local grain, and not go for something fancy.
  3. Cereals: Daliya is the best option here, avoid the branded cereals
  4. Pasta: Excellent choice, favorite with the kids. Try to choose wheat pasta. My personal favorite brand is Borges. Excellent quality!
  5. Potatoes: Universally favorite item with kids, you just can’t do anything wrong with this!

Fats

Fats are often avoided as parents worry about obesity or other problems. But when given in reasonable quantities, fats are actually very good for children’s health. They are stores of energy and are used for building tissues and, in combination with other nutrients, help the body perform its activities smoothly. Fatty foods include:

  1. Whole milk dairy
  2. Oils
  3. Egg Yolks
  4. Clarified butter or ghee
  5. Meat
  6. Fish
  7. Nuts

Calcium

Calcium is very important for a child’s developing bones and teeth. Calcium also aids in the clotting of blood and functioning of the heart, nerves and muscles. Calcium rich foods are:

  1. Milk
  2. Cheese
  3. Curds and yogurt
  4. Ice cream: This is definitely an easy one!
  5. Egg yolks
  6. Spinach: If your kid doesn’t like the sabji, make paranthas, or palak dosas for breakfast. Excellent substitutes.
  7. Paneer and tofu
  8. Broccoli: This is a tough one. However, broccoli soup is amazing in taste. Make sure you don’t keep broccoli bits in it, so the soup finishes quickly.

Iron

Iron is necessary for a child to have healthy red blood cells that efficiently carry oxygen all over the body. Foods having high levels of iron are:

  1. Red meat
  2. Poultry
  3. Shellfish
  4. Whole grains
  5. Beans
  6. Nuts

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is beneficial for children in many ways. It helps in their growth, strengthens the eyes, keeps skin soft and supple and increases immunity.  Here are some foods rich in Vitamin A:

  1. Carrots
  2. Sweet Potatoes
  3. Apricots
  4. Spinach
  5. Cabbage
  6. Broccoli
  7. Egg yolk

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is very important for fighting off common cold. But this is not its only use. It does other activities like holding the cells of the body together, strengthening the walls of blood vessels, healing body wounds and as a component in developing strong teeth and bones. Foods high in Vitamin C content are:

  1. Citrus fruits
  2. Strawberries
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Potatoes
  5. Melons
  6. Cabbage
  7. Cauliflower
  8. Papaya
  9. Mangoes

Fiber

Fiber is used to provide roughage in your child’s bowel. Fibrous food is recommended when kids have the problem of constipation regularly. Fiber is also known to reduce the rate of heart diseases and cancer in later years.

Some examples of fibrous foods are:

  1. Whole grain cereals
  2. Lentils
  3. Kidney beans
  4. Chickpeas
  5. Seeds: Add pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, chia seeds, etc. to your salads. Brings amazing taste in addition to the nutrients.
  6. Nuts
  7. Fruit peels, highly important. Don’t make it a habit of peeling all the fruits before feeding them to your kids, especially, chikkoos, apples, mosambi, oranges, guavas, etc. The skin contains the highest amount of fibre. Let them learn to eat the whole fruit.

If you take a closer look at the list above, you will see that different coloured foods have different nutrients in it (all brown foods have carbs, all whites & greens have calcium, etc.) When deciding the menu, make sure it is a colorful one, so that we get the right amounts of everything. Also, it makes the dishes look interesting!

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About the author

Nisha Joshi

Nisha Joshi

Homemaker, new mother, true punekar, bookworm, blogger, photographer, budding chef, music enthusiast, likes to keep her fingers in many pies!

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