The eating habits of kids has always been a matter of concern for parents, with food industries spending billions of rupees on advertising junk foods and attracting kids.
We understand that you as a parent are concerned about your child’s picky eating habits or excessive consumption of junk food. However, it is your duty to make sure that you feed your child the right food for his/her proper growth.
“What to feed my child?” is the most asked question by a parent to a nutritionist. But, what we forget to remember is that the rules of adult nutrition apply to kids as well, except for the caloric requirements.
The daily caloric requirement of an adult hovers around 2,000 calories, whereas a 3-6-year-old kid requires 1,000-1,400 calories. A 10-14-year-old kid may require 1,400-2,200 calories daily, depending on his/her physical activity level.
Calories aside, the most important thing to consider when it comes to your kid’s healthy eating plate is what foods to include and what to avoid. But, what exactly is a kid’s healthy eating plate?
According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, a kid’s healthy eating plate is a visual guide to encourage and educate kids to eat healthily. It is a graphic representation of the type of foods to include in their daily diet and also stresses on staying physically active for a child’s overall health.
Kids Healthy Eating Plate
Before we jump into the kind of foods to include, here are a few healthy eating rules to include in yours as well as your kid’s daily life.
- Prefer whole grains over refined grains
- Cut down on sugar or keep it to the least you can
- Have a whole fruit instead of a fruit juice
- Do not exceed your daily calorie intake
- Stay hydrated throughout the day
- Eat a variety of foods and keep alternating them to get a variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
What to include
At a glance, a kid’s healthy eating plate must include 50% of varied fruits and vegetables, 25% of whole grains, 25% of healthy proteins, a bit of healthy oils or fats, water and dairy, and physical activity.
Fruits and vegetables
The simplest rule while eating vegetables and fruits is to make it as colorful as possible. This means, include as many varieties of fruits and veggies as you can in your daily diet. This is because no single fruit or vegetable will be able to satisfy all your nutrient, vitamin, and mineral requirements.
Including fruits and vegetables in your diet provides you with beneficial fiber to promote digestion and also helps in maintaining low blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart diseases and chances of cancer, improves eyesight and also prevents your kid from eating junk by keeping his/her tummy full.
That being said, avoid starchy vegetables like potatoes as it has a negative impact on the blood sugar levels.
While fruits and vegetables provide the required nutrients and fiber, whole grains being healthy carbohydrates provide fuel to your kid’s body by digesting slowly and without spiking the blood sugar levels.
Refined grains, unlike whole grains, are stripped of their nutrients and spikes the blood sugar levels. The more processed the grains are, the more harmful it becomes.
You may use whole grains such as (semi) brown rice, whole wheat flour, quinoa, oats, corn, and others instead of white rice or refined flour (maida).
Try to avoid providing your kids with processed foods like burgers, pasta, and pizzas as much as possible as they are made of refined flour and easily converts the food into sugar.
Protein is a macronutrient and the primary source of body development and growth. It is important to include substantial amount of protein in your kid’s daily diet. Protein deficiency may result in growth stunt, decreased immunity and heart health, loss of muscle mass, and many others.
Your kid requires approximately 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of his/her weight. For example, if your kid weighs 20 kgs, he/she requires 20 grams of daily protein intake.
Beans, peas, peanuts, seeds, and dal are some of the best plant-based protein sourced you can feed your kid. You may also choose animal-based protein sources like fish, eggs, and chicken.
Limit the intake of red meats like pork, or lamb as they have more amount of saturated (bad) fat and are also hard to digest.
Healthy fat (oils)
Fat is generally misconstrued to be unhealthy, however, there are good fats and bad fats. Our body requires good fats or unsaturated fats like olive oil, sesame oil, canola oil, or peanut oil for energy, absorbing certain vitamins and nutrients, and to maintain heart and brain health.
Ghee, a superfood is one of the best sources of healthy fats. You may include ghee or the above oils in your kid’s diet and limit the usage of butter.
Dairy, water, and active lifestyle
Apart from the above foods, make sure your kid gets a daily dosage of milk, water, and an active lifestyle to have a balanced and overall development.
Milk is another healthy food and a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D that you can include in your kid’s daily diet. However, it can be provided in smaller quantities compared to the above foods.
It goes without saying that water is essential to maintain a healthy life, so inculcate the habit of drinking lots of water from a young age.
And finally, no matter what you feed your kids, it is important that they also have an active lifestyle. That does not mean that they need fancy equipment. Having fun and being active in the playground is also considered as physical activity.
With all, that’s said in this article about the kids healthy eating plate, if you still have any queries or would like to know more about what to feed them, you can always contact us on +91 8800 644 744 to Consult with Top Nutritionists near you.