Balanced Diet for Children

Obesity in children is a major concern in the world today. It may result in various heart diseases and diabetes. A healthy diet can help decrease body weight caused due to accumulation of fats. The following article provides information about the various nutrients that must be included in the diet of a child and their importance.
The nutritional requirements in every child vary, depending upon the age, height, weight, and sex. Therefore, it is important for parents to plan a balanced diet for their children. A healthy diet that contains all the essential nutrients help in strengthening the immune system of a child.

Healthy Diet

Food items that contain all the essential nutrients required by your child’s body must be a part of his/her diet. It is important to have three meals per day which should include one protein source per meal. Whole grains and oats may be included as carbohydrate sources. Dairy products like low fat cheese or peanut butter and soy milk are also good for your child’s health. Fruit juices can be consumed once or twice a day.

The following food components should be included in their diet. It should meet the daily calorie requirements. Given below are the types of food that may be included in the menu.

Whole grain foods – Whole grain toast, cereal, and pasta are good sources of carbohydrates. Whole grain items increase the calorie content of the body because they are rich in essential B vitamins.
Fruits and vegetables – Green vegetables, carrots, lettuce, salads, broccoli, cauliflower, and fruit juices such as orange, cranberry, and lemon juices help build your child’s immunity and keep diseases away. Fruits and vegetables are rich source of calcium, iron, vitamins, and minerals.
Dairy Products – Milk, cheese, and yogurt decorated with nuts and other dairy products are good for your child’s health, as dairy products are good sources of protein and calcium.
Lean proteins – Nuts, beans, lentils, peas, meat, eggs, and fish (mackerel and sardines) are rich sources of proteins. Proteins supply the essential amino acids needed for your child’s growth and development.
Fats – Sugar and sweets are required in small amounts for energy production.

Diet Chart for Children

This chart contains the food intake required by your child on a daily basis.

Food Type Per Serve Per Day Serving from this group
Whole Grain Foods (Bread, Pasta, Cereal) Bread – 2 slices, Pasta – 1 cup, Cereal – 1cup 5-9 serves per day
Vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Salad, Spinach) Half a cup each 4-5 serves per day
Fruits (Oranges, Apple, Banana) 1 piece, Juices (1 glass) 2-3 serves per day
Dairy Products (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt) Milk (250 ml), Cheese (40 grams), Yogurt (200 grams) 2-4 serves per day
Lean Proteins (Meat, Fish, Egg) 1 piece 1-2 serves per day

Your child’s overall development depends upon his/her dietary habits. A stipulated amount of oils which contain healthy fats are also need in your child’s diet , like coconut oil and olive oil. Essential fatty acids aid in proper functioning of the brain and help in maintaining mental health. Oily fish are rich in essential fatty acids, and folates help produce red blood cells. Green leafy vegetables (spinach and turnip) and citrus fruits are good sources of folate. Vitamin A is required for the proper growth and development of cells and is good for the eyes. Carrots, pumpkin, and broccoli are rich sources of vitamin A. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps in iron absorption, which is obtained from fruits like oranges, dark berries, etc. Deficiency of vitamin D causes rickets in children. Therefore, vitamin-rich foods like eggs and oily fish should be included in the diet. Fibers should be incorporated in the diet to prevent constipation. Fibers help in proper digestion and body metabolism. Water intake should be 6-8 glasses per day to prevent dehydration.

A healthy diet is necessary to boost the energy levels. Encourage your child to eat nutritious food items. While processed food or junk food may tickle the taste buds, only a proper diet can keep your child fit and healthy.

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