Researches suggest that these days children do not eat adequate amount of nutritious foods required for their growth and development. More and more children are eating outside home and filling themselves up with junk food at meal times. This means poor nutrition during growing years and nutrient deficiency related diseases, later in life. It is important to pay attention to your kids’ diet and teach them the value of eating right during childhood years.
Whatever eating habits your kids will imbibe at this impressionable age will go a long way in their life and will set a precedent for their health status. While, you will find many articles on teaching your kids eating skills, here we are trying to focus on important nutrients and their recommended daily servings meant for kids.
Various Diet Tips For Kids
Broadly speaking, we can divide kid’s diet into “everyday foods” and “occasional foods”. Everyday foods are cereals, fruits and vegetables, meat and other meat based foods and dairy products. Occasional foods are those foods which are good for taste buds but not beneficial for overall health. While it is important to know which foods should be given to kids, it is also equally important to know what the right amount is for kids. It will help in providing them adequate nutrients without increasing calories.
This food group comes at the base of the food pyramid. It means that a child should eat maximum servings of this food group. Cereals and breads contain carbohydrates, fiber, proteins and a host of vitamins and minerals. It is very important to offer children a variety of this food type on daily basis.
Include various cereals like rice, wheat, oats, corn, etc. Try to include wholegrain based products in their diet like whole wheat bread or multigrain bread, whole wheat pasta, etc. Kids aged 4-7 years need 3-7 servings, 8-11 need 4-9 and 12-18 years need 4-11 servings.
Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They prevent obesity, aid digestion, prevent vitamin deficiencies and deficiency related diseases. Kids aged 4-7 years need 1-2 fruit servings and 2-4 vegetable servings, 8-11 need 1-2 fruits and 3-5 vegetables serving and 12-18 years need 3-4 fruit servings and 4-9 vegetable servings.
Meat And Alternatives
Meat and alternatives like red meat, eggs, fish, sea food, nuts, legumes, etc. are great source of iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins. Serve children mostly low fat products cooked in healthy ways. Grilling, steaming, baking on a rack are some good ways to keep the nutrition of these foods intact without raising their calorific value.
Vegetarian children need to pay more attention on eating high iron foods like fortified cereals, leafy greens, etc. Kids aged 4-7 years need 1/2-1 servings, 8-11 need 1-1.5 serving and 12-18 years need 1-2 servings on daily basis.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. are excellent source of calcium – a building block for strong teeth and bones, protein and a variety of vitamins. Children should eat a variety of foods from this food group also.
If children are lactose intolerant or do not like dairy products then supplement their diet with other sources of calcium like fish with eatable bones, leafy greens, calcium fortified orange juice, soy products, etc. Kids aged 4-7 years need 2-3 servings, 8-11 need 2-3 and 12-18 years need 3-5 servings daily.
Water should be given to children as a major fluid throughout the day. Water helps in flushing out toxins and is an essential ingredient for all body processes and cells. Kids aged 4-7 years need 5 glasses, 8-11 need 5-6 glasses and 12-18 years need 5-8 glasses every day.
Some amount of healthy oils like olive, canola, mustard, etc. is required by body for making essential fatty acids and other processes of the body but children should not include unhealthy foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries, chips, cookies, soda, etc. in their daily diet. These foods should be enjoyed in small amounts occasionally merely for adding pleasure to everyday foods menu.