16 March 2021
We always talk about how it’s important for a child to have a healthy, nutritious diet. And School-going, growing children, need nutritionally adequate and a balanced diet that supports their growth and development. A healthy diet and physical activity is important for optimum health which also reduces the risk of chronic diseases later in life and prevent deficiencies Child nutrition is a vast subject, so as a first step here, let’s begin with what a balanced diet for a growing child should include.
A balanced diet for kids is one that is the perfect combination of all the three macronutrients which are proteins, carbohydrates and fats along with micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. There’s no need to chase the number of dishes on a child’s plate, and in fact, a simple Indian meal can easily cover all three essential macronutrients and micronutrients. All three of these macronutrients are, simply put, sources of energy in different forms. Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy, and can be commonly found in food groups such as grain, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Fats give you energy and help you absorb certain essential vitamins. Proteins are not majorly used as a source of energy, they are used to build and repair the tissues in your body, help fight infections, help in production of hormones, enzymes etc.
Now that we have things put into perspective of what a balanced diet for kids should contain, let’s jump into some easy meal plans so you don’t have to be worried about what to feed your kid next.
PS: Parents, keep in mind a few things about child nutrition. All three meals served to your kids must include a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein and fats. While designing a day’s diet here are some important pointers:,
Most Indian meals offer a balanced diet. Ensure you tick mark on the abovementioned boxes.
Breakfast- An easy and nutritious option for a simple breakfast is toast and egg, paired with milk. You can make that little more healthy by adding Complan to the milk and turning it into a shake/smoothie. Complan provides good quality protein along with vitamins and minerals. Alternatively, you could also opt for upma/poha/dosa/paranthas, paired with a glass of milk and Complan and some fruit.
Mid-morning snack: Since kids tend to get hungry more often, the mid-morning snack could be cut fruits (in case they avoid these at breakfast), any healthy ladoos such as ones made with til/besan/poha/oats/coconut/almonds (and the likes), halwa or simply a handful of dry fruits (this will ensure that kids get their micronutrients which includes minerals like Iron, Zinc, calcium and Vitamins. like A and E).
Lunch- The lunch should be a nourishing, healthy meal that keeps your kid full for long. Again, this doesn’t mean the plate should be packed with umpteen options. Just the right kind of combinations work perfectly well for kids. Khichdi/dalia with dal and green vegetables + curd (both rich in protein)/ vegetable pulao (rich in carbs and fat) and tomato raita (also provides protein)/ , paratha with mixed vegetables or vegetable paneer kathi roll along with a glass of butter milk (provide carbs, fat and protein), etc.
Evening Snack- This is the time when kids unfailingly tend to ask for their favourite junk food. So instead of giving them the same old mundane snacks, try making healthy versions of their favourite snacks. Make them homemade healthy dishes such as burgers with plenty of veggies (to make them healthy), give them simple vegetable/chutney sandwiches, again a good choice here is a milk and Complan smoothie/shake, a handful of chana along with fruits, too, can satiate their hunger.
PS: At times it’s impossible to completely eliminate certain junk foods from your child’s diet, what you can do is make them eat a healthy snack first and only then give them their favourite food and reduce the portion size of junk food. . This way, you will ensure they get their essential nutrients first, and chances are that if they get full with the healthy snack, they may not want anything else.
Dinner- All’s well that ends well, right? Dinner can be something enjoyable such as a meat/fish preparation, and vegetables along with dal and roti/rice.
PS: Don’t forget to make sure they’re staying hydrated while drinking water throughout the entire day.
Most Indian meals offer a balanced diet for kids. Children tend to get bored if they’re given the same options frequently, so be sure to innovate and experiment, and make healthy versions of their favourite food to keep them interested and longing for more. Healthy eating habits in kids must be inculcated at a young age so in a way, you’re making sure they make the right choices all along!
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